KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia-Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd. has phased out production of aircraft tires in Japan and France, and sold most of the related manufacturing assets to Sime Aircraft Tyre Co. Sdn. Bhd. Meanwhile, Sime Aircraft has plans to expand capacity and add radial capability to its plant in Kuala Lumpur.
Sumitomo decided to exit the aircraft tire business after an earthquake rocked Kobe, Japan, in January 1995, rendering its Kobe plant unusable, a company spokesman said. The Japanese-owned firm offered no details as to the size of the business or gain/loss on the sale of the equipment.
Sime Aircraft, a wholly owned subsidiary of Sime Darby Bhd.'s DMIB Bhd. operation, budgeted an unidentified sum to acquire the Sumitomo aircraft tire assets and add them to the Sime plant in Kuala Lumpur.
In addition to manufacturing machinery, Sime Aircraft acquired from Sumitomo a high-speed test wheel, a shearography unit and other necessary testing and certification equipment. These will be phased into use at Sime Aircraft's tire technology center starting in the second half of 1996.
Also, Sime Aircraft intends to have radial capacity operating by the second half of 1997, making it one of four companies worldwide with radial aircraft tire capability.
Sime Darby/DMIB took over 100-percent ownership of Sime Aircraft last year after Groupe Michelin exercised an option to withdraw from a joint venture arrangement there set up in 1989 by Sime and B.F. Goodrich Aerospace, a Sime spokesman said.
Michelin continued the joint venture after it took over BFG's aircraft operations later that same year, but ended the relationship last year. Michelin instead set up aircraft tire retreading capacity at its Siam Tyre Industry affiliate in Hong Khae, Thailand.
Sime Darby is a technology affiliate of Sumitomo, but in the case of aircraft tires, it will rely on the resources of the Sime Darby Tyre Technology Centre adjacent to the DMIB manufacturing complex.
After the dissolution of the joint venture, Sime Darby had to petition the U.S. Federal Aviation Agency to certify the Sime Aircraft plant according to Technical Standards Organization code C62-D; the existing certification had been issued through Goodrich/Michelin.
DMIB has been active in aircraft tire retreading since 1970 and started manufacturing new aircraft tires in 1975, when the unit still operated as Dunlop Malaysia under Dunlop Holdings control.
Sime Aircraft markets its products under the Simex Aero trade name. BTR P.L.C.'s Dunlop Aircraft Tyres unit controls use of the Dunlop name in this business.
Sime Aircraft got a potential business boost recently when Malaysia became the first Asian country to sign the Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement, which will allow Malaysia's local aviation authorities to act as the certifying body for aircraft components and service/repair operations.
The company already is a certified supplier of new and retreaded tires to local airlines in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Pakistan and South Africa.