AISI calls for supplier development technology contributors


Now into its 18th year, the AISI (Aerospace Industry Support Initiative) government drive to improve the competitiveness of South Africa’s aeronautics, space, defence and marine advanced manufacturing sectors, is inviting expressions of interest (EoIs) for its technology-based supplier development programme.

The EoI (001/29/04/2024) aims to identify companies requiring technology support in sectors related to advanced manufacturing in the aeronautics, space and defence sectors. All technology enhancement projects from the EoI must fall into specific thematic areas approved for support.

“Selected thematic areas are at the discretion of the AISI and are considered to be the most relevant for technological advancement in the South African aeronautics, defence and space sectors,” the invitation reads in part, going on to name six specific areas. They are: aerostructures including advanced manufacturing and processing (including digital manufacturing, unmanned aerial vehicles [UAVs], surface treatment technologies, additive manufacturing); space; avionics; propulsion; surveillance and sensor systems; and land systems.

The closing date for submissions is over nine months away on 28 March next year but interested parties need have no concern about submissions gathering dust, as it were. Application received will be evaluated on the 15th of each month as received until the EoI closes.

The current EoI follows a July 2023 call for proposals (CfPs) to the aerospace and defence sectors for what the AISI said was an aerospace and defence industry development and technology support programme. It aimed to identify organisations needing “technology support in sectors relating to advanced manufacturing in aeronautics, space and defence”.

This, as with other programmes at the CSIR (Council for Scientific and Industrial Research) based AISI, aims to advance “South African niche capabilities and value propositions in support of National Government objectives such as competitiveness improvement and localisation”.

Probably the best-known beneficiary – funding-wise – from AISI is Potchefstroom-based Jonker Sailplanes. The glider designer and manufacturer put the funding into an upskilling programme for young men and women working on the company’s vibration-less engine and sailplane development.

Other South African aerospace companies to benefit from the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the dtic) initiative are Cape Aerospace Technologies (small gas turbine engines) and Centurion-based Petrawell (filament winding), amongst others.