The quality of work produced by Denel Aerostructures (DAe) for the new generation A400M airlifter has been rewarded with a third work package worth R200 million by Airbus Military.
The multi-million Rand contract will see the Kempton Park-based aerostructure design and manufacturing operation producing ribs, spars and swords (the skeletal support structure) for the A400M.
An indication of the esteem the Denel Group company is held in by the original equipment manufacturer came from Airbus Military chief executive, Domingo Urena, when he spoke at this week’s Paris Airshow where the contract for the third work package was signed.
“Denel, with its diverse set of expertise, capabilities and capacities is central to Airbus Military’s ambition to develop an expanded and multi-facetted partnership with South Africa’s high-tech aerospace and defence industry, tied to South Africa’s military aircraft requirements and acquisitions,” he said.
Preparations are underway at DAe adjacent to OR Tambo International Airport for launch production of components with the first finished shipset to Airbus’ vertical tail plane factory at Stade in Germany scheduled for March next year.
Under a renegotiated contract announced last September, the South African manufacturer is also responsible for two other A400M work packages involving design, engineering and fabrication of the wing-to-fuselage fairing and the fuselage top shells for the A400M.
The wing-to-fuselage fairing is the largest single aerostructure component ever produced in South Africa and provides an aerodynamic shroud over sensitive equipment located in the aircraft’s centre wing section. 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 emergency life rafts.
The latest work package to be awarded to DAe is contracted to run over the entire life of the A400m programme. This, Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba said, was another indication of Airbus Military’s confidence in both Denel and South Africa’s design and manufacturing capabilities, coupled with the company’s ability to deliver on time and within budget.