UAE's Edge unit expands facility to manufacture Boeing 787 metallic parts locally

EPI, which specialises in precision machining and engineering services, will make the trailing edge parts on the vertical fin of Dreamliners

An EPI employee performs surface treatment at the company's facility that opened at Tawazun Industrial Park last year. Image courtesy of EPI.
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EPI, the precision engineering unit of Abu Dhabi's defence company Edge, will make metallic parts on Boeing's 787 Dreamliner in the UAE in a move to expand its commercial aviation business.

EPI will make aluminium trailing edge ribs, a component on the vertical fin of the plane, for the wide-body aircraft, EPI said on Monday on the sidelines of the Global Aerospace Summit hosted virtually by Abu Dhabi.

The serial assembly lines will be an extension to EPI's Abu Dhabi facility, with the processed parts also going through EPI’s surface treatment plant that was launched last year.

"Today’s announcement expanding EPI’s manufacturing capabilities is an encouraging indicator for the region’s aerospace and defence industries and we look forward to exploring similar opportunities in the coming years," Khalid Al Breiki, president of Edge's Mission Support cluster, said.

The Dreamliner is the backbone of Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways' fleet. The UAE capital has been expanding its domestic manufacturing industries and developing high-tech capabilities as part of a push to diversify its economy away from oil.

The deal between EPI and Boeing was facilitated by the Tawazun Economic Council (Tawazun), a government body tasked with tasked with developing a homegrown defence industry.

EPI's surface treatment plant, established in April 2019, is part of an industrial collaboration agreement between Tawazun Economic Council, Boeing's Defence, Space & Security arm and EPI. The aim was to build a chemical processing plant that would ramp up its existing production capabilities and move beyond machining into aircraft assembly for aerospace manufacturers.

“This contract with EPI will expand the capability and capacity of Boeing’s global supply chain while supporting further development of the UAE’s aerospace industry,” Bernard Dunn, president of Boeing Middle East, North Africa and Turkey, said. “Adding EPI as a new supplier for the 787 Dreamliner is a prime example of our mutually beneficial approach to engagement in the UAE.”

EPI is part of the Mission Support cluster at Edge. The unit, which joined Edge in 2019, specialises in precision machining and engineering services for aerospace, defence and oil and gas industries, according to Edge's website. The company’s capabilities span engineering, production, surface and heat treatment, machining, coating, repairing and tooling.

EPI was established in 2007 under the name TPI (Tawazun Precision Industries). Earlier this year, the company became a regional manufacturer of aircraft parts for Tolouse-based Airbus.

Boeing is currently weighing up a decision to build the 787 Dreamliner at a single site, most likely its South Carolina factory, and close a second final assembly line in Everett, Washington, according to Bloomberg. A decision is expected to be announced as soon next month, it said, citing sources.

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has dealt a blow to the long-haul, international travel market, in which twin-aisle jets like the 787s are used.