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Philippines Aerospace Industry

On 11 February 1911 the first biplane was flown in Manila, with James C. Mars as its first pilot. Until recently the Philippines aerospace industry was largely limited to maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) operations, or the assembly and maintenance of aircraft manufactured in other countries, primarily the United States. Players in this sector include Philippine Aerospace Development Corporation (PADC) and Asian Aerospace Corporation.

In the 1980's the Philippine Air Force (PAF) attempted to reduce its dependence upon American second-hand aircraft by starting two "indigenous" aircraft programs: a single-engine trainer plane, the "Defiant,"; and a light utility helicopter, the "Hummingbird." In July 1997 President Ramos authorized spending for the projects, and the Philippine Aerospace Defense Company (PADC) undertook the development effort. But a year later, once Ramos was succeeded by President Estrada, the Defiant and Hummingbird programs were terminated. Dornier Technology, a Philippine company, announced plans in 2008 to set up the first aircraft manufacturing plant in the Philippines.

Philippine Aerospace Development Corporation (PADC) was established in 1973 as the government's arm for the development of the Philippine Aviation Industry. PADC is an attached agency of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC). The driving motives for its establishment are self-reliance, national security and technology transfer.

The Corporation, by itself or through its subsidiaries, undertakes business and development activities for the establishment of a reliable aviation and aerospace industry. To do this, it engages in the design, manufacture and scale of all forms of aircraft; it develops local capabilities in maintenance, repair and modification of all equipment related to air flight; and it operates an air transport service for domestic or international flights.

During the 1980's the Philippine Air Force (PAF) attempted to reduce its dependence upon American second-hand aircraft by starting its own indigenous aircraft programs. The first program was a single-engine trainer plane, called the "Defiant," that could also be armed and used in the counter-insurgency role. The second was a Philippine-made light utility helicopter named the "Hummingbird." The two aircraft programs were supported by members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, but were not allowed to proceed by the government until July 1997, when President Ramos authorized spending for the project. The Philippine Aerospace Defense Company (PADC) undertook the development effort.

Ramos was succeeded shortly thereafter by President Estrada, whose government immediately conducted a review of the Defiant and Hummingbird programs. The review concluded that the two projects, which were only a year old at that point, were likely to be unjustifiably lengthy and expensive. As a result both were immediately terminated. Another factor was that the Hummingbird was in fact essentially an unlicensed copy of the MBB/Eurocopter Bo-105C and Eurocopter had threatened to sue the Philippine government. PADC had been involved with the assembly and maintenance on the helicopters, first acquired during the 1970s. To avoid the impending legal battle the PAF destroyed the prototypes. As of 2012, no attempt had been made to revive the Defiant or develop another helicopter program.

PADC has gained wide experience in aircraft assembly, fabrication and structural repair. To date, PADC's major accomplishments include the assembly of forty-four (44) BO-105 helicopters and sixty-seven (67) BN Islander aircraft under a licensing agreement with Messerchemitt Bolkow Blohm (MBB) of Germany and Pilatus Britten Norman (PBN) of England, respectively. In a joint venture with Agusta / SIAl Marchetti of Italy, PADC completed the assembly of eighteen (18) units SF 260 TP single-engine turbo-prop trainer aircraft and twenty-four (24) S-211 jet trainers for the Philippine Air Force. PADC also completed the assembly of six (6) units Lancair ES and two (2) units Lancair IV aircraft for the Philippine National Police.

Other major accomplishments include the repair of four (4) units DC9 aileron trim tabs, manufacturing of ten (10) units SF-260 vertical fin, Inspection Repair as Necessary (IRAN) of two (2) units F-27 Fokker Aircraft. Up to the present, PADC continues to do the IRAN for the BN Islander Aircraft Series. Aside from manufacturing, PADC is also an exporter of helicopter components, i.e. helicopter tail booms and fiberglass components. PADC has also accomplished Non-traditional projects, which include the manufacturing of one thousand (1,000) units Fiberglass chicken feeders and fifty (50) units Fiberglass bus panels.

PADC established a maintenance, repair and overhaul center for Allison 250 series turbine engines, as well as Lycoming and Continental piston engines up to four hundred (400) HP rating. As the Allison Authorized Maintenance and Overhaul Center (AMOC) in the Philippines, PADC undertook the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program on the overhaul of the Allison 250-C30 engines of the Sikorsky helicopters and the Allison 250-B17 engines of the Nomads, for the Philippine Air Force. In addition, PADC maintains a complete facility for the repair and overhaul of piston engine, fuel accessories, landing gears and propellers bearing the Hartzell, Mc Caulley and Hamilton brands.

The Asian Aerospace Corporation is the second largest Aircraft Maintenance Center, MRO in the Philippines for General Aviation and Military Aircraft. In January 2008 the Department of National Defense has decided to scrap the bidding to acquire six (6) night-capable attack helicopters form Php1.2 billion for the Philippine Air Force following the results of the investigation on complaints of alleged irregularities in the bidding. In a memorandum dated January 24, 2008, Defense Secretary Gilberto C. Teodoro, Jr. declared the bidding process for the Night Capable Attack Helicopter (NCAH) Acquisition Project null and void. Asian Aerospace Corporation - representative of McDonnell Douglas in the Philippines - was the only bidder that pre-qualified in the bidding process. But it did not meet the technical specification of the minimum requirement of the 3,000 lbs. payload as required by the Philippine Air Force.

Dornier Technology Philippines, is owned by longtime Philippine resident Iren Dornier, chairman of Southeast Asian Airlines (SEAIR), the Philippines’ premier leisure airline. Iren Dornier is the grandson of Claude Dornier, pioneering German designer of World War II military aircraft.

Together with Nick Gitsis and Filipino Tomas Lopez, Iren Dornier founded South East Asian Airlines (SEAIR) in 1995 to open up air routes to resort destinations, starting with Caticlan (the jump-off point to the resort island of Boracay) and Palawan. SEAIR is the second-oldest airline in the country, serving 18 sectors, including some destinations which had been abandoned and serving the transport needs of the populace there. In 2004, SEAIR passed the one million passengers mark, and offers an average of up to 29,000 seats a month, flying an average of 19,000 passengers to Boracay a month. As of 2009 Seair had 11 aircraft: 7 were 19-seater Let 410 and 2 Dornier 328 (32 passengers), both capable of Short Take-Off and Landing (STOL). Southeast Asian Airlines (SEAIR) announced that it was boosting its operations in the growing markets of Batanes, Boracay, and Romblon by adding three 32-seater Dornier 328s to its fleet starting August 2010.

Whereas initially only SEAIR and Asian Spirit could fly passengers into Caticlan with their small airplanes that the small airstrip could accommodate, in 2008 Air Philippines, an affiliate of Philippine Airlines, inaugurated flights to Caticlan. Tiger Air, the budget carrier of Singapore Airlines, signed an agreement in February 2011 to buy a 32.5-percent stake in Seair Inc. for $6 million.

Dornier Technology Inc. (DOTECH) evolved as an independent entity on September 26, 2008 utilizing the ongoing approval of the Philippine Airworthiness Authority. The current business address of Dornier Technology Incorporation is at Hangar 7224, Diosdado Macapagal International Airport, Clark Freeport Zone, Clark Field, Philippines, about 50 miles north of Metro Manila. The company was organized as the Maintenance and Repair Station. Dornier Technology Inc. (DOTECH) is a comprehensive service provider that meets the challenging demands of the aviation industry for a wide range of services and equipments at competitive prices. DOTECH provides maintenance services for the DO328-100, LET 410 UVP-E, Light Aircraft, Helicopters, Special Aircraft such as Alpha Jet and Amphibian Aircraft, and other small to medium transport and commercial categorized aircraft.

Dornier Technology announced plans in 2008 to set up the first aircraft- manufacturing plant in the Philippines. The aircraft manufacturing business was undertaken jointly with Dornier Technologie Aviation Services GmbH, of Gilching, Germany. Initial investment for the $350-million project was estimated at $20 million. By late 2010 the multi-million-dollar seaplane manufacturing plant, which may eventually employ up to a thousand workers like engineers, avionic technicians, airframe and mechanical staffs, was in operation fabricating a two-seat multi-purpose aircraft primarily designed as a training platform for would-be seaplane pilots.

The S-Ray 007 designation is derived from 2007, the year Dornier first flew and landed the S-Ray prototype somewhere in the Philippines. The first five units were produced in Europe. The basic version of S-Ray 007 costs $300,000. The seaplane, which weighs 825 kilograms, can carry two persons. Its wing span is 9 meters. The Clark manufacturing facility targets to make 300 units.

The 25-seat seaplan is capable of traveling long distance, with an approximate radius of action of 2000 nautical miles. The Dornier Seastar has 12 seats, meaning the new model will have double capacity compared to Seastar The company is interested in the production of a 25-seater pressurized long range commercial airplane and may also be used as a cargo transport aircraft to remote areas such as isolated islands. The plane could also be used for coast border patrol, anti-drug smuggling, special missions/operations or strictly for pipelines or areas submerged with water where helicopters are limited in range. It can also be utilized as firefighter plane where it could scoop thousands of gallons of water within seconds.



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