Turkiye’s first aircraft factory, TOMTAŞ Aviation and Technology, located in the central Anatolian province of Kayseri, has announced plans to resume production by manufacturing parts for the multipurpose Gökbey helicopter and the Hürkuş trainer aircraft. This development marks a significant step in the country’s aviation industry as it seeks to enhance its domestic production capabilities.
Rebirth of a Historic Factory
The history of TOMTAŞ Aviation and Technology dates back to the 1920s. Following the establishment of the Turkish Aircraft Society in 1925, plans were set in motion to establish an aircraft factory to meet the country’s capital and technical personnel needs. The factory was officially opened in 1926 in Türkiye’s Kayseri province as Tayyare Plane and Motor Türk AŞ (TOMTAŞ). The factory produced and assembled various aircraft parts, primarily for the German company Junkers.
The partnership with Junkers was short-lived and ended in 1928 due to wage disparity between German and Turkish workers and the German company’s failure to uphold its obligations under the agreement. The factory was reopened in 1931 as Kayseri Aircraft Factory. After several changes, the factory was repurposed in 1950 as Kayseri Air Supply and Maintenance Center Command. Despite having ceased production in 1950, TOMTAŞ will now be revitalized 72 years later, marking a historic moment for Türkiye’s aviation industry.
The Path to Domestic Production
Board member Ali Ekşi announced the factory’s revival during the third edition of Teknofest, Türkiye’s premier technology and aerospace event held in Izmir. He stated that the factory’s certification processes would be completed within a few weeks, paving the way for the production of the structural parts of Gökbey and Hürkuş.
Ekşi elaborated on the role of the Kayseri province, stating that it has recently aimed to meet the bar set by Türkiye in the field of defense and aviation. He emphasized that despite their extensive experience in industrial infrastructure, aviation production is a relatively new domain for them. The work done regarding aviation infrastructure and certifications at TOMTAŞ is expected to serve as a benchmark for Kayseri.
A Future in Combat Aircraft Production
The TAI Kaan, formerly known as TF-X, is a stealth twin-engine air superiority fighter currently under development by Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) and BAE Systems. The TAI Kaan is planned to replace the F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft of the Turkish Air Force and is also projected for export to foreign states. The prototype of this next-generation fighter was officially announced to be rolled out on 18 March 2023. The taxiing and ground running tests of the prototype began two days before the scheduled roll-out, and its maiden flight is expected to take place later in 2023. The aircraft was officially named Kaan on May 1, 2023.
The development of TAI Kaan reflects Türkiye’s commitment to enhancing its national defense capabilities. It represents a significant milestone in Türkiye’s journey towards becoming a leading player in the global aviation industry.
Continuing the Legacy
The revival of TOMTAŞ is a testament to the enduring vision of the Turkish Republic’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who attached great importance to the development of aviation in Türkiye. The factory’s rebirth is expected to fuel further advancements in the country’s aviation sector, setting the stage for Türkiye to become a significant contributor to the global aviation industry.
As TOMTAŞ gears up to resume production after more than seven decades, it is poised to play a pivotal role in shaping the future of aviation in Türkiye, carrying forward the legacy of the country’s first aircraft factory.