Denel Aerostructures (DAe) has been awarded a fourth multi-million rand contract to manufacture and produce key parts on the Airbus A400M Atlas military airlifter.
The company will, in future, manufacture ISO locks – a combination of aluminium rails and cross tracks – to be fitted into the cargo hold of each of the giant aircraft which are to be delivered to international clients over the next six years. The contract is valued at over R260 million.
“The new work package confirms Denel Aerostructures’ reputation as an emerging player in the global aerospace environment. It is a vote of confidence in the South African engineering and high-tech manufacturing sectors,” said Denel Group chief executive, Riaz Saloojee.
The tender was won through a bidding process against international competitors. “It is quite clear Airbus Defence and Space is satisfied with the quality of work we have delivered on other contracts over the past nine years and decided to place another work package with Denel,” Saloojee said.
The contract will cascade to other companies in the aerospace and high tech sectors with some of the manufacturing processes being subcontracted to DAe’s local supplier base.
Ismail Dockrat, DAe chief executive, said the ISO locks will be manufactured at the company’s Kempton Park facility to designs received from Airbus Defence and Space. Each A400M has a system of rails and cross tracks inside the cargo hold to guide movement of the ISO containers.
There are four parallel sets of aluminium rails and 32 cross tracks in the aircraft’s cargo hold. Transported equipment is packed inside containers which are then loaded along the rails into the aircraft fuselage. A system of locking mechanisms keeps the containers secure in flight.
DAe will manufacture and deliver the ISO locks to be fitted to each of the 174 aircraft already ordered from Airbus Defence and Space by international customers. The process of industrialisation has already started and the first ship set will be delivered to Airbus’ fuselage assembly facility in Bremen, Germany, by September.
Serial production will be ramped up in 2015 and DAe will deliver at least 20 ship sets a year over the six year contract period. Dockrat said Denel will also manufacture a different rail system for loading of smaller containers as required by some international customers. The Central Guide Vehicle Restraint System (CGVRS) will facilitate the movement of emergency supplies which are air-dropped by the A400M. The smaller containers are usually filled with humanitarian aid, food and emergency supplies. This contract is valued at more than R70 million.
According to Saloojee, DAe is one of a select few companies outside Europe that manufactures critical parts for the A400M. The company is also responsible for the airlifter’s wing-to-fuselage fairing, the top shells that protect the wing section and the “ribs, spars and swords” which form the internal structures of the aircraft’s tail section.
“The new contract strengthens our relationship with Airbus Defence and Space and sends a signal to the global aerospace sector about the know-how and experience available in the South African manufacturing industry,” he said.