Airbus to increase A400M work packages in South Africa


Airbus Military plans to increase the scale and complexity of A400M work packages in South Africa and is currently renegotiating the packages with Denel Aerostructures and Aerosud.

Martin Sefzig, Director Sales Africa at Airbus Military, said that his company is negotiating with Denel to expand the work packages, in spite of the cancellation of South Africa’s order for eight A400Ms in November 2009. Airbus Military is satisfied with the work conducted in South Africa and does not want to remove the packages, as this would disrupt its supply chain. Sefzig said that, “We want a long-term partnership with Denel and Aerosud, beyond the existing work packages,” which would entail increased volumes and the fabrication of more complex parts.

On a recent visit to South Africa, Cedric Gautier, the Head of the A400M programme, said that Denel Aerostructures (DAe) is “one of Airbus’s most reliable suppliers for the manufacturing of the A400M. We are pleased with the quality of workmanship and the engineering know-how available in the company.”

DAe is responsible for one of the largest composite-metallic hybrid structures on the A400M, namely the Wing-to-Fuselage Fairing (WFF). The WFF protects the equipment under the centre wing portion against lightning strikes, hail damage and bird strikes. Each fairing is 15 m long, 7 m wide, and nearly 3 m high.

DAe also manufactures the aircraft’s Top Shells – positioned in front of and behind the wings where it is joined to the fuselage. They are made up of more than 1 100 parts, consisting of a large machined skin, engineered out of an aluminium alloy. Its brackets support the electric and electronic wiring, hot air and heat exchange piping as well as the aircraft’s life-rafts.

Both parts were designed from scratch by DAe and are manufactured at the company’s production facilities located next to O R Tambo International Airport.

Denel Aerostructures is currently ramping up its production to meet Airbus Military’s delivery schedules. Within the next four years DAe will manufacture 24 ship sets per year, moving off the production lines for final assembly in Seville, Spain.

For its part, Aerosud is responsible for a number of secondary structures on the A400M, including the nose fuselage linings, cargo hold linings, and cockpit linings, the cockpit rigid bulkhead and the nose fuselage galleys as well as the wingtips.

The CEO of Denel Aerostructures, Ismail Dockrat, said his company also supplies components for the Saab Gripen, the AgustaWestland A109 Light Utility Helicopter and the Gulfstream G150 executive jet. On the G150 it is responsible for the tail section, consisting of the vertical tail fin, the horizontal section and rudder. On the Gripen, DAe manufactures the rear fuselage section, the main landing gear unit and the six under wing pylons.

Dockrat said a distinguishing feature of DAe is its “design to build” capacity – meaning that it is responsible for the entire production process, from the initial designs to delivery of the final product.
“Our participation in these international projects demonstrates the confidence of original equipment manufacturers in the high standards of our engineering skills and the quality of our production processes,” said Dockrat. “Our company is on the cutting edge of aerostructure manufacturing.”