UAE-based Monarch Airplane Manufacturing has signed an agreement with Chinese drone technology company EHang Holdings to set up an aircraft manufacturing plant in Abu Dhabi.
It would be the first facility in the Middle East and Africa to manufacture and operate sustainable electric-powered aircraft and drones for passengers and cargo transport, the companies said in a statement on Friday.
Under the agreement, the companies will also set up a command-and-control centre to manage the urban air mobility autonomously and build the infrastructure to operate electric aircraft and drones.
The partnership reflects Abu Dhabi's high level “infrastructure for advanced and smart industries and developed legislative and regulatory frameworks … which provides an attractive environment for innovations and investments in advanced industries and technological transformation,” said Rashed Al Blooshi, undersecretary of Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development.
The project will also help in building infrastructure for vertiports and autonomous flight management systems that use artificial intelligence, the companies said.
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Last month, the UAE issued a licence for electric cargo aircraft amid efforts to accelerate the shift towards eco-friendly transport and enhance the sustainability of the air cargo industry.
This licence was issued in collaboration with logistics company United Parcel Service to test electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft in the Arab country.
The global all-electric aircraft sector is expected to grow by 14 per cent to about $20 billion by 2030, up from $6 billion in 2021, according to a study by Dublin-based consultancy Research and Markets.
Industry stakeholders are developing core aircraft components and adopting technologies to help the sector make the transition to a more sustainable means of air transport and cut carbon emissions, the study found.
“As part of its efforts to transition to the next phase of economic diversification, Abu Dhabi is focusing on knowledge based, innovation-driven economic sectors,” said Mr Al Blooshi.
“The Industrial strategy is a major factor to achieve our objectives as its programmes aim to enhance, encourage and adopt methods and technologies of industry 4.0, circular economy, talent development, ecosystem enablement, home-grown supply chain and value chain development.”
Abu Dhabi has embarked on a major programme to boost its standing as the region’s most competitive industrial hub and further strengthen its economy.
The emirate's industrial strategy, supported by a Dh10 billion ($2.72 billion) investment by the Abu Dhabi government, aims to more than double the size of the manufacturing sector to Dh172 billion, create 13,600 jobs and increase the emirate's non-oil exports by 143 per cent to Dh178.8 billion by 2031.
“This venture will support the future of transportation sector in the emirate of Abu Dhabi in line with the government vision to enhance fundamentals of the smart city,” said Hussain Ali Alomaeirah, founder and chairman of Monarch.
“It provides a new concept of cargo and passenger transportation, utilising advanced technologies, artificial intelligence, and sustainable energy with zero carbon emissions,” Mr Alomaeirah said.
The UAE is already a major global aviation hub, home to long-haul airline Emirates, mid-sized Etihad Airways and budget specialists Air Arabia, flydubai, Wizz Air Abu Dhabi and Air Arabia Abu Dhabi.