More than a dozen South African aerospace and defence companies have made commitments to move their industries forward into growth as part of the Aerospace and Defence Masterplan.
Actions in the very short term to stabilise and ensure the survival of the industry have been approved by the working stakeholder partnership of the State, the Private Sector and Organised Labour, according to the Aerospace and Defence Masterplan document published at the end of 2020.
Aircraft engine maker Adept has committed to additional internships and apprenticeship training while aircraft parts maker Aerosud will provide Letters of Intent for investment in the Centurion Aerospace Village (CAV), pursue foreign direct investment, explore investment in the maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) of fixed wing aircraft and helicopters, and establish a training school for artisans in the CAV. Aerosud International will resuscitate discussions with Boeing, Airbus, Embraer, and others in the future over aircraft parts manufacture. The Commercial Aerospace Manufacturing Association of South Africa (CAMASA) is also willing to facilitate international investment in the CAV.
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The Aerospace, Maritime & Defence Industry Association (AMD) will provide an expert task team to define and provided an optimal border management framework and solution for South Africa; and is willing to provide an online model to the Directorate of Conventional Arms Control (DCAC) to streamline the defence import/export license application process. Armscor and Reutech are also willing to assist in this process.
Reutech will implement investment in local production and international markets to the value of R750 million, resulting in the retention of 600 jobs and a significant increase in export sales within three to five years. The company is also willing to lead/support an industry export programme for international markets and provide resources towards this.
Rheinmetall Denel Munition (RDM) will fund bursaries for engineers and support high schools with equipment and capacity to strengthen Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM) training and outcomes. The company is currently providing 80 interns per annum with workplace internships and retaining over 20% in permanent positions. It will support Small, Medium, & Micro Enterprise (SMME) development through 1% and 2% of Net Profit After Tax (NPAT) spending on programmes; and continues to support Military Veterans programmes with significant financial resources.
Sandock Austral has committed to implementing the largest apprenticeship programme in KwaZulu-Natal through its shipyards and will implement an Enterprise Development programme by allocating between 30% and 40% of each project revenue to black-owned SMME support in the supply chain.
The South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) is, according to the Masterplan, committed to ensure through its working groups with the relevant State entities and the industry that the final regulatory framework and related systems for RPAS/UAS (drone) design, manufacturing, utilisation, training, certification and operations would be concluded by the end of March 2021.
The SACAA will convene, once a year, an indaba with the civil aviation industry and those affected, to feed back on its benchmarking of application and certification systems, as well as its international benchmark performance and confirm ongoing engagement with the industry. The SACAA will also complete its shift to electronic and online application processing by the end of November 2021.
Other companies that have pledged commitments in support of the Masterplan are African NDT Centre, Damen Shipyards Cape Town, GEW, Hensoldt Optronics, Paramount Group, and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). The latter will continue to pursue research and development activities, while Denel will secure strategic equity partners in core Strategic Business Units as approved by the Board and this may include missiles, artillery, and UAVs.
The Aerospace and Defence Masterplan, completed in 2020, aims to increase local production of selected products by 50% from current baseline levels by the end of 2024; improve export sales by 100% from the current baseline by the end of 2022; increase formal employment from current levels by 50% by the end of 2025; retain advanced skills in the ecosystem and double the participation of black and/or women participants in the industry from the current baseline by the end of 2022.
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