Boeing looking to expand presence in South Africa


Aerospace giant Boeing is looking to expand its presence in South Africa, through a range of activities including biofuels, training and manufacturing.

Miguel Santos, Vice President – Africa: Boeing International, said that, “we want to further our presence in South Africa in a variety of ways: manufacturing, pilot training, defence, commercial,” adding that Boeing was looking at southern Africa as well as it is an important market for the company.

Boeing is involved in many different sectors of the aerospace industry in South Africa. For instance it has partnered with 43 Air School on pilot training and is working on additive manufacturing and titanium powder in conjunction with local researchers and has a biofuels programme with South African Airways.

In June 2013 Boeing and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) signed a memorandum of understanding on research into using titanium powder in industrial manufacturing. South Africa is the second largest titanium mineral producer.

In October last year Boeing and South African Airways signed an agreement regarding the establishment of a sustainable aviation biofuel supply chain in Southern Africa. This is Boeing’s first biofuel supply chain project in Africa.

On the manufacturing side, Boeing has subcontracted Aerosud to make components for its aircraft. Aerosud “performs very very well” in manufacturing Boeing 737 components, Santos said. He added that if he had his way, Aerosud would receive more work from Boeing.

He added that Boeing is looking to Denel Aerostructures to manufacture aircraft components. At the moment Denel Aerostructures is making parts for the Airbus Defence and Space A400M Atlas, but such a project will not last forever and Denel is looking at other long term programmes. Santos said Denel did at one stage manufacture 737 parts, such as flap tracks, and that Boeing is trying to re-establish a relationship with Denel.

Boeing plans to have a presence at the Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) 2014 exhibition in September and plans to bring out an AH-6i light attack/reconnaissance helicopter. It is highly likely that its ScanEagle unmanned aerial vehicle will also be present. During AAD 2012 Boeing arranged for an Angola Airlines (TAAG) Boeing 777 to visit and will try and arrange a similar performance this year. Santos said AAD was an important place for Boeing to show its presence in South Africa, both commercially and for its defence lineup.

Of course Boeing also supplies its commercial aircraft to regional airlines and recently delivered eight 737-800s to Comair, which in May became the first African operator to order the 737 MAX 8 when it signed for eight aircraft. TAAG last month took delivery of a 777-300ER from Boeing and will receive another one in December 2016 and a third in January 2017, Santos said at the Aviation Outlook Conference currently underway in Sandton. South African Airways is going to acquire new wide body aircraft and Boeing is promoting its 777X and 787 Dreamliner to meet the impending acquisition process.

Regarding the acquisition of a new VIP jet for President Jacob Zuma, Santos said Boeing has not received any request for proposals. In 2012 Boeing proposed selling a 777-200LR from a cancelled order to the South African Air Force but this process came to a halt. The acquisition of additional VIP aircraft has been put on the Strategic Capital Acquisition Master Plan (SCAMP) project list and as such is now classified.

Boeing is also looking to expand its military presence in Africa, especially with regard to mobility and vertical lift. Boeing Defence Space and Security (BDSS) is focusing on South Africa as an entry point into sub-Saharan and then North Africa.