Gauntlet thrown on “fully operational” aerospace village


A senior DA MP has challenged the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to show the “so-called fully operational” Centurion Aerospace Village (CAV).

Shadow deputy minister of economic development Patrick Atkinson issued the challenge to Minister Rob Davies in the wake of a DTI statement maintaining the aerospace incubator had one tenant and was up and running. The statement did point out that provision of infrastructure, particularly as regards earthworks, was still underway and when complete would “pave the way for the entry of more tenants and the development of a successful supplier park”.

Last week Atkinson held a media conference at the CAV site, east of AFB Waterkloof in Centurion, where he pointed out seven years after launching the aerospace industrial park was “a vacant plot of barren land, characterised by few piles of sand and enclosed by a rusted barbed wire fence”.

The DTI statement refuted Atkinson’s allegations and pointed out that disciplinary action had been taken, criminal procedures started and a “more robust” finance, governance and oversight system developed and implemented. Measures to strengthen the CAV board of directors, appointment of a chief executive and the appointment of a “fully functional audit risk committee” were also in the pipeline.

The DTI statement said the current lone tenant was “a global supplier of aircraft components” which was awarded a tender to supply Airbus in an open international tender requiring globally competitive capabilities”.

The only company in the area which meets these requirements is Aerosud, a supplier to both Airbus and Boeing. It is not a tenant of the CAV, occupying land adjacent to the unused CAV land and was formed in 1990. It is not part of CAV and its partnership with Ivor Ichikowitz’ Paramount Group in the AHRLAC (Advanced, High Performance, Reconnaissance, Light Aircraft) venture will not go further at CAV. defenceWeb has reliably learnt the South African designed and manufactured reconnaissance single-engined aircraft is going into production at a yet-to-be built facility based at Wonderboom Airport, north-east of Pretoria.

Atkinson said he will write to Davies challenging him to put his money where his mouth is and conduct an open visit of the so-called “fully operational” CAV. “Minister Davies must show the public where the buildings are, where the jobs that have been created are, and where the R95 million of taxpayers’ money has actually been spent,” he said.