Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Is the End Nigh for Chile's Aerospace Company?
The Air Force is considering shutting down its aerospace business, which is heavily in debt and unable to forge international partnerships. FACh commander Gen. Jorge Rojas has ordered a study into shutting down Empresa Nacional de Aeronautica, or Enaer, the online newspaper El Periodista reported. The move came after a planned alliance with EADS/Airbus Military became frustrated in legal entanglements. If Enaer is closed, about 800 workers would be affected, although one-third of them would staff up a new Air Force wing that would take over aviation maintenance duties. No doubt, the demise of Enaer would be a blow to Chile's aerospace aspirations. The company, which is about $60 million in debt today, was responsible for one of Chile's most successful military exports, the Pillan T-35 basic trainer. Its plants have refurbished C-130 Hercules for various air forces. The end of Enaer raises other serious questions. For example, the company was supposed to have a role in the development and construction of Embraer's C-390 transport, as part of Chile's plan to acquire several of the planes. Would Chile be forced out of the program? And how does the failed EADS deal affect the Navy's and Army's own plans for foreign alliances?