New helicopter maintenance centre

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The state-of-the-art maintenance facility, next to OR Tambo International, will cater to the rapidly growing number of Russian Helicopters products flying on the continent of Africa, requiring high-level maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) work. Denel Aviation is the only company accredited to perform these services, and is also able to deploy technical field teams to any destination in Africa to do local repairs and maintenance.

The importance of this centre for future aerospace co-operation between the two counties was underlined when president Jacob Zuma and Russian president, Vladimir Putin, participated in the opening ceremony through a video link-up from the BRICS Summit, in Durban.

The chairman of the Denel Board, NR ZoliKunene, says the establishment of the centre is a practical example of the type of partnerships that will emerge from the summit. “Through the BRICS alliance, we see the prospects of new market opportunities opening up for Denel to confirm our position as a proudly African defence company that can also be a significant player on the global stage,” he said.

“This is an important stage of implementation for the development of a global system of Russian rotary wing equipment after-sale maintenance,” Dmitri Shugaev, Deputy CEO of Rostec State Corporation, underlined. “There is a great demand for Russian helicopters both inAfricaand on other traditional markets for us. That is why it is important to provide maintenance services on the spot. It will encourage the business efficiency of our partners in the region southward of Sahara, and provide a well timed certified after-sale maintenance of the civil helicopter fleet. Our equipment becomes more attractive since we offer world-class quality services in our maintenance centres.”

Today, the Russian-made helicopter fleet in Africa comprises approximately 600 rotary wing aircrafts of Mi-8/17 and Ka-32 models. “Such fleet maintenance requires the organisation of a state-of-the-art service support system in the region,” Dmitri Petrov, CEO of the Russian Helicopters Holding, said. “The MRO facility establishment by Denel Aviation became a big step in this direction. A large, regional centre is to be based on the venture’s facilities and to subsequently perform after-sale and service maintenance of all the Russian Helicopters products in the Sub-Saharan.”

Russian Helicopters Holding provided a maintenance centre inJohannesburgwith the equipment and documentation required, prepared the facility for work, and arranged training for Denel Aviation staff at one of its ventures, Novosibirsk Aircraft Repairing Plant.

The decision about the establishment of the service centre was taken with the signing of a partnership agreement between Denel Aviation and Oboronprom, in September 2012, at the seventh Africa Aerospace and Defence Show, in Tshwane. Denel Aviation plans to perform service maintenance of Russian Helicopters’ civil rotorcrafts within the co-operation.

The South African company looks to gradually expand the service range after-sale maintenance and overhaul of Russian-made civil and military rotorcrafts and aggregative equipment.

The group chief executive of Denel SOC, Riaz Saloojee, says these aircraft require a reputable and accredited facility within easy range of its users in Africa to perform MRO services. Both operator and original equipment manufacturer must have full confidence in the quality and experience of the engineers and technical crews who are performing this work.

“This is the quality of service that Denel Aviation has become known for in the broader aviation industry, and which it has already demonstrated through the work done in support of Russian Helicopters’ products over the past three years,” said Saloojee.

The facility is the only one of its kind in Africa and is expected to take over responsibility for the maintenance of most of the estimated 350 helicopters manufactured by RH, flying on the continent.

The two companies have already conducted joint roadshows to market their collective capabilities and received positive feedback from operators in countries such as Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria and Uganda, which will most likely send their helicopters to Kempton Park for MRO services in the future.

Saloojee said he expects the partnership to grow and expand into other areas, which might include the joint marketing of products and services on the continent.

Saloojee said as an African defence and industrial company, Denel intends to expand its footprint on the continent, including the establishment of regional offices in a number of key countries.

Africa currently constitutes 27% of Denel total export sales of R1.33 billion, but it foresees strong future growth – especially in the fields of MRO work, humanitarian demining and unmanned aerial vehicle systems.

“Denel’s approach is to create partnerships with our clients in Africa. It is not a question of selling services and systems and walking away from the deals,” says Saloojee. “Our African partners know that we continue to support our services through training programmes, maintenance agreements, the provision of spares and equipment, upgrades and technical advice.”



The new MRO centre will also fit into Denel’s initiatives for the training of skilled aviation engineers, artisans and technicians. The Denel Technical Academy trains about 250 students a year in aviation-related courses, including from countries such as Botswana, Angola, Zambia, Namibia and Nigeria.