Build a cheaper aircraft, Mahathir challenges company

LANGKAWI: Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has challenged Composites Technology Research Malaysia Sdn Bhd (CTRM), to create, design and build a cheaper aircraft, entirely on its own based on the Eagle 150B.“I believe the Eagle frame can be used. Perhaps, we can continue studying how to produce the cheaper aircraft based on the same frame. When can we succeed? I do not know, but it is worth trying.

PRECISION WEAPON: Dr Mahathir listening to deputy CEO of Colt Defence LLC, major-general James R. Battaglini on how to use M4 Carbine during his visit to LIMA 2009.  — Bernama photo

PRECISION WEAPON: Dr Mahathir listening to deputy CEO of Colt Defence LLC, major-general James R. Battaglini on how to use M4 Carbine during his visit to LIMA 2009. — Bernama photo

“After that, I suggest we go on to slightly bigger aircraft with twin engines. These are the kind of things that we need to be brave enough to attempt,” he said at an appreciation ceremony for him, at the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition (LIMA 2009) here yesterday.

CTRM, established in 1990, was a brainchild of Dr Mahathir who wanted Malaysia to explore the high-technology industry, including the production of composite material.

“Hopefully, you (CTRM) can design and produce an aircraft that is entirely your own and when you do that, I will be happy to attend LIMA again,” Dr Mahathir said in jest, drawing laughter from the floor.

CTRM, through its wholly-owned subsidiary, CTRM Aviation Sdn Bhd, was involved in the manufacture and assembly of the two-seater composite light aircraft, the Eagle 150B.

It was to be a new generation light aircraft, capable of cruising at 125 knots.

The project was then seen as the first major step taken by CTRM in positioning itself as one of the most preferred aero composites component manufacturer globally.

However, it is understood that the project was stopped due to a lack of demand for the aircraft, which is quite expensive to produce.

At a media conference later, Dr Mahathir said CTRM had tried to produce the Eagle and Cirrus, but had yet to create an aircraft on its own.

“Although there had been attempts to design an aircraft, it was not able to focus, due to too much work. I hope CTRM will recruit staff competent in computer design to create an aircraft also undertake testing, using computers,” he said. — Bernama

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