Denel excited about company’s role in Airbus A400M airlifter to French air force

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The plane, with SA’s contribution to its design and manufacturing through Denel, will be handed over to the French air force today.

The first Airbus A400M military transport plane with South Africa’s contribution to its design and manufacturing through Denel will be officially handed over to the French air force on Monday 30 September. Employees at Denel Aerostructures will be part of this celebration, during a live video linkup to the event, which will be taking place in Seville, Spain.

This will be an opportunity for the engineers, artisans and technicians at Denel Aerostructures in Kempton Park to see the first production model of the A400M in flight, and celebrate South Africa’s contribution to its design and manufacturing.

The event will be attended by Crown Prince Felipe of Spain and the French Defence minister, Jean Yves le Drian.

Denel Aerostructures is the only Tier 1 supplier of manufactured parts to the A400M outside of Europe. In June, Airbus Military placed a third multimillion-rand contract with the company during the Paris Airshow in France, which was attended by Denel’s chairman, Zoli Kunene, and the Group CEO, Riaz Saloojee.

The work package was for the manufacturing of the “ribs, spars and swords”, the inside structure of the giant airlifter’s distinctive tail section. At the time, Kunene said the approximately ZAR200 million (€15.1 million) work package was contracted to run over the entire life of the A400M programme. “It demonstrates Airbus Military’s confidence in Denel and South Africa’s design and manufacturing capabilities, coupled with our ability to deliver on time and within budgets.”

Under a renegotiated contract, announced in September 2012, the South African manufacturer is also responsible for two other A400M work packages involving the design, engineering and fabrication of the wing-to-fuselage fairing and the fuselage top shells. The wing-to-fuselage fairing is the largest single aerostructure component ever produced in SA and provides an aerodynamic shroud over sensitive equipment located in the centre wing part of the A400M. The fairing protects the equipment from lightning, hail damage and bird strikes.

The fuselage top shells are made up of more than 1 100 individual parts and a large machined skin, engineered out of an aluminium alloy. Each A400M is fitted with two top shells, positioned in front and behind the wings where they join the fuselage. They are also fitted with approximately 1 000 brackets, which support electrical and electronic wiring, hot air and heat exchange pipes and the aircraft’s emergency life rafts.

The live linkup to the event in Spain will provide Denel Aerostructures employees with an opportunity to see the parts of the aircraft they produce during the aircraft’s flight for the first time. “This is a celebration of South African innovation and our hi-tech manufacturing capabilities. We are participating with great success and confidence in the most ambitious multinational aircraft production process ever. It shows that we have the skills and capacity inside South Africa to manufacture sophisticated aerostructures, and we are ready to contribute to the growth of the home-grown aerospace industry,” says Saloojee.

About the A400M

The A400M is an all-new military airlifter designed to meet the needs of the world’s armed forces in the 21st century. It is ideally suited to the typical African peace-support missions, which continue to be undertaken by SA in support of the African Union and United Nations mandates on the continent. Thanks to its most advanced technologies, the A400M is able to fly higher, faster and further, while retaining high manoeuvrability, low speed, and short, soft and rough airfield capabilities. It combines both tactical and strategic/logistic missions.

With its cargo hold specifically designed to carry the outsize equipment needed today for both military and humanitarian disaster relief missions, it can bring this material quickly and directly to where it is most needed. Conceived to be highly reliable, dependable, and with a great survivability, the multipurpose A400M can do more with less, implying smaller fleets and less investment from the operator. The A400M is the most cost-efficient and versatile airlifter ever conceived and absolutely unique in its capabilities.
Contact details:

Vuyelwa Qinga

Group Communications Manager
+27 (0) 12 671 2662
[email protected]