Similar to and oftentimes overlapping with the aviation industry, the aerospace sector is more technology-driven and investment-intensive to provide for its massive infrastructural requirements. While the aviation industry caters to aircraft, pilots, travellers and transportation of people and goods around the world, aerospace focuses on industrial and military clientele, and infrastructure geared towards space travel and communication.
Since the introduction of the National Aerospace Blueprint in 1997, Malaysia’s aerospace industry has grown rapidly. Following the establishment of the Malaysian Aerospace Council (MAC) in 2001 to steer and develop the sector in the country, the transformation of the old international airport in Subang Jaya to the Malaysia International Aerospace Centre (MIAC), and the introduction of Satellite Development and Astronaut Programmes, the nation realised RM19b in revenue and RM4.2b in investment from the aerospace industry in 2014. By 2030, this revenue is expected to almost double to RM32.5b, as the technology-intensive sector will also play a crucial role in the country’s aim to achieve developed nation status by 2020. To this end, the Malaysian government introduced the National Aerospace Blueprint 2015-2030 in March this year, as a set of plans to further boost and strengthen the industry, and position the country as Asia’s aerospace hub by 2030. This translates to a commitment to strengthen the infrastructure and systems required to achieve the goals.
In 2014, the Malaysian government – through Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA), one of the agencies under the Rural and National Development Ministry – announced the establishment of the Asia Aerospace City (AAC), which will offer the infrastructural requirements to spur innovation and development in the industry. The 328,000 sq m AAC will be located within the MIAC, which is the regional centre for aerospace Maintenance, Repairs and Overhauls (MRO) and engineering businesses, and will feature R&D facilities, office suites, academic campuses, a convention centre, and residential areas. This development will be a welcome infrastructural addition to the country’s rapidly growing MRO capabilities – which also provides the biggest area of opportunities for investors in the sector. Already, Malaysia’s aerospace industry boasts more than 150 local and international companies, including global giants, such as GE Engines, Airbus, AgustaWestland, Messier-Dowty-Bugatti and Spirit Aerosystems.
“With the right attitude and entrepreneurial instinct, the aerospace industry in 2030 is set to be a strong, dynamic and a high-technology sector that supports the complete aero system lifecycle and an important economic activity for Malaysia.”
– Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed, International Trade and Industry Minister speaking at the Malaysian Industry- Government Group for High Technology Open Forum held in conjunction with the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition 2015 (LIMA15)
More than just providing infrastructure, the Malaysian government plans to offer training for Malaysians, to boost the level of skilled workers in the country – with the aerospace sector expected to generate up to 32,000 high-skilled jobs by 2030. The AAC is also designed to be self-sustaining, with solar photovoltaic panels on the dome-like roof tops and electric vehicles such as buses to transport people around the property.
The development of a Malaysian aerospace hub is already being actively promoted by the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) and the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) through conferences in the country and around the world. At one of the most recent of such events, at the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition 2015 (LIMA15), MITI Minister DatukSeri Mustapa Mohamed pointed out, “The aerospace industry is targeted to be one of Malaysia’s main engines of growth in the next decade as indicated in the Malaysia Aerospace Industry Blueprint 2030.”