Denel Aviation has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the South Africa Air Force (SAAF) to promote the maintenance on a wide range of aircraft flown by the Air Force.
The MoU was officially signed at Air Force Base Waterkloof on Friday in a ceremony attended by the chief of the South African Air Force, Lieutenant General Carlo Gagiano.
The Chief Executive Officer of Denel Aviation, Michael Kgobe, said the MoU aims to promote collaboration and cooperation between the SAAF and Denel and to ensure that there is a consolidation and retention of capabilities and scarce skills.
Gagiano said that in providing for combined maintenance services, the partnership with Denel would lead to the greater availability of transport aircraft used by the air force and more flying hours for pilots.
“We bring extensive experience, local knowledge and a strong record of flight safety to the relationship with the SAAF,” said Kgobe. “We provide the Air Force with a cost-effective maintenance service at a time when operational budgets are under severe pressure.”
Gagiano noted that the contribution by Denel Aviation has been immense considering its role in keeping the SAAF’s C-130 Hercules fully operational and in training artisans and technicians. Some of the C-130s have been flying for more than 45 years and the quality of the maintenance and repair work done will ensure that they remain operational beyond 2020.
In addition to being the Original Equipment Manufacture (OEM) of the Rooivalk attack helicopter and design authority on the Oryx transport helicopter and being responsible for maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO), Denel Aviation also provides upgrades and systems integration work on designated aircraft types in the SAAF fleet.
The first six upgraded Rooivalk helicopters were handed over to 16 Squadron in Bloemfontein in April last year and the remaining five aircraft will follow in the coming months.
Kgobe said his company’s partnership with the SAAF is based on a “win-win approach… We help to keep their aircraft flying safely and within the Air Force’s operational budget. Flight safety is of the utmost importance to the SAAF and we ensure that the aircraft are mission-ready and properly maintained according to the highest technical standards.”
Gagiano referred to Denel Aviation as a “completely integrated, fully functional maintenance and repair organisation working to world best-practices on C-130, Casa 212 and Cessna C208 aircraft.”
Denel Group Chief Executive, Riaz Saloojee, said that, “Our partnership is thriving at a time when defence budgets are under pressure world-wide and South Africa is implementing a range of strategies to grow its skills base and train more artisans and technicians.”
Denel Aviation is currently accredited for the maintenance of a variety of aircraft such as the Lockheed Martin C-130, its civilian sistership, the L-100 and certain helicopters in the Eurocopter range like the Puma, Super Puma, AS350 Squirrel and BO105. The company is also establishing itself as a sub Saharan Africa MRO centre for Russian Helicopters, in collaboration with that company.
Artisans and technicians trained by Denel Aviation are based at various Air Force bases in the country to complement the SAAF maintenance crew in performing the required maintenance actions.
The majority of its artisans and technicians were trained at the Denel Technical Academy located adjacent to Denel Aviation in Kempton Park. Denel Aviation awards bursaries and sponsorships to more than 90 students who participate in the four-year basic course that includes a practical apprenticeship.