South Africa’s Denel Aviation has become the world’s ninth accredited Lockheed Martin service centre for the maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) of C-130 transport aircraft – and the first in Africa.
Although Denel Aviation has been supporting the South African Air Force (SAAF`s) fleet of Hercules C-130 aircraft for decades, the company says this formal accreditation opens the way to a much bigger market.
“With some 140 of these aircraft (C-130 and its L100 civil version) in Africa, there is ample opportunity for Denel Aviation,” says Denel Aviation CEO Ismail Dockrat.
“What we see today is the result of an earlier strategy to align Denel Aviation with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) related to our product services. For us to be a recognised C-130 MRO facility, Denel Aviation simply needed to obtain Lockheed Martin accreditation.”
With no other official Lockheed Martin C-130 accredited service centre in Africa, both Lockheed Martin and Denel Aviation saw the benefits of establishing the service centre at Denel Aviation to serve the African market.
The process started as far back as March 2007 when Lockheed Martin performed a site survey of Denel Aviation`s MRO facilities adjacent to OR Tambo International Airport near Johannesburg. The US firm audited all Denel`s maintenance and support facilities, after which Denel submitted a C-130 business case.
In October 2007 the US State Department gave approval for the export of required technical information from Lockheed Martin, which would enable Denel Aviation to operate as an accredited Lockheed Martin C-130 service centre.
This now enables Denel Aviation to support all other C-130B models through C-130H model operators outside the SAAF, of which 14 are in Africa out of a global tally of 61 countries.
The process was delayed for some months in 2008 to allow for, among other issues, a newly devised Support Services Agreement (SSA) that sets the standard for all Lockheed Martin Hercules service centres globally.
“As we have been working hard to achieve this status, I am exceptionally pleased that our company can now expand its activities into Africa and beyond,” Dockrat said. ”With more than 40 years` experience of aircraft maintenance and support, we know that Denel Aviation can give customers the best.”
Denel Aviation is today primarily a military MRO company. In the past year Denel Aviation was awarded Phase 2 of a SAAF contract for the avionics and navigation system upgrade of the Denel M1 Oryx medium transport helicopter fleet. The contract, running over a period of four years, will extend the service life of this critical aircraft system for at least another 15 years.
In 2007 Denel Aviation received Eurocopter accreditation as a MRO centre, which provides for maintenance and repair of Puma and Alouette helicopters, as well as for the mechanical and dynamic components on the Oryx and Denel CSH1 Rooivalk fleets. Denel Aviation recently also completed the Hawk final assembly with delivery of the last of these new trainer aircraft to the SAAF.