Landmark delivery takes off from Al Ain

The first vertical tail fin to be built in Abu Dhabi for an ATR regional airliner has been delivered by Strata from its factory in Al Ain.

Noora Al Kahiali works at the Strata facility in Al Ain. The company is manufacturing parts for the ATR turboprop aircraft. Delores Johnson / The National
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The first vertical tail fin to be built in Abu Dhabi for an ATR regional airliner has been delivered by Strata from its factory in Al Ain.

The landmark delivery, which took place on the eve of the UAE's 41st National Day, is the latest milestone in the UAE's efforts to diversify its economy away from dependency on the oil and gas sectors, and to transform the country into a major high-tech global manufacturer.

The completion also confirms the Mubadala-owned aerostructures company as a direct supplier to Alenia Aermacchi, which makes the highly successful ATR turboprop.

Indeed, the Alenia Aermacchi contract could lead to potential work on the Eurofighter project, should the UAE Air Force select it as its next-generation strike aircraft, said Maurizio De Mitri, the senior vice president of the Italian planemaker.

"With the first package completed for the ATR Vertical Fin programme, Strata employees have shown their commitment to supplying vital structures to the highest standards of quality," said Mr De Mitri. "We are now looking to extend this collaboration to other programmes.

"If the UAE selects Eurofighter, we will be working with Strata to decide which packages it would be interested in delivering. We are no longer talking about a supplier relationship, where Strata just 'builds to plans', but a full technology transfer where Strata would become a full partner."

Alenia Aermacchi is the aerospace division of Italy's Finmeccanica group, which is a partner in the Eurofighter consortium, EADS.

Under the current ATR contract between Strata and Alenia Aermacchi, as well as vertical fins, Strata will go on to manufacture rudders and horizontal stabilisers for the aircraft leading to it becoming the sole supplier of the whole ATR tail section, known as the empennage, delivering up to 50 sections a year.

"Becoming a tier-one supplier to the ATR is a major step forward, as Strata continues to realise and exceed the goals we set out for ourselves two years ago," said Badr Al Olama, the chief executive of Strata. "Over the course of the coming years, I eagerly anticipate celebrating more firsts with our growing team."

Strata sent 43 of its employees to Alenia Aermacchi's facility in Italy, including three Emirati women, to receive specialised training in all aspects of assembly and composites manufacturing. The trainees have now returned to Al Ain to begin implementing the skills they acquired to successfully complete this package.

"Every National Day we celebrate the achievements of our country, and I am reminded here today that the growth and sustainability of any economy or industry ultimately depends on the knowledge and skills of its local workforce," said Homaid Al Shemmari,the executive director of Mubadala Aerospace and chairman of Strata.

"Following international training with one of the key players in the aerospace industry, it is a real achievement for so many UAE nationals to have played their part in the delivery. I look forward to seeing more Emiratis joining Strata's training programmes, contributing to this exciting company's growth and ensuring Abu Dhabi becomes a truly global aerospace hub."

Strata currently supplies airframe sections for the Airbus A330, 340 and 380 programmes, and is working towards supplier status on the new Airbus A350 and the Boeing 777 and 787 programmes.