South Africa’s Denel Aims at ASEAN Market
South African Aerostructure Manufacturer Sets Eyes On Asean Region.Experience gained by South Africa’s Denel Aerostructures in the design and manufacturing of the world’s premier aircraft is now also available to clients in South-East Asia.
The CEO of Denel Aerostructures (DAe), Ismail Dockrat, says his company is a supplier of strategic and vital parts to the Airbus A400M, the SAAB Gripen fighter aircraft, the AgustaWestland A109 Light Utility Helicopter and the globally popular Gulfstream G150 executive jet.
DAe, a company in the Denel Group, is part of the South African pavilion at the Defence Services Asia Exhibition at the Putra World Trade Centre.
“We have the technology, the infrastructure and the accumulated experience to partner with clients in South-East Asia in all areas of the design, industrialisation and manufacturing of both fixed-wing and rotary aircraft,” says Dockrat.
DAe is one of a select few companies outside of Europe to design and manufacture vital parts for the A400M, the world’s most advanced tactical airlifter. On a recent visit to South Africa, Cedric Gautier, the Head of the A400M programme said DAe is “one of Airbus’s most reliable suppliers for the manufacturing of the A400M. We are pleased with the quality of workmanship and the engineering know-how available in the company.”
Best known for its design, development and manufacturing of South Africa’s Rooivalk combat-support helicopter, DAe is responsible for one of the largest composite-metallic hybrid structures on the A400M, namely the Wing-to-Fuselage Fairing (WFF).
The WFF is the essential part of the aircraft that protects the sensitive equipment under the centre wing portion against lightning strikes, hail damage and bird strikes.
DAe also manufactures the aircraft’s Top Shells – positioned in front of and behind the wings where it is joined to the fuselage. They are made up of more than 1 100 parts, consisting of a large machined skin, engineered out of an aluminium alloy. Its brackets support the vital electric and electronic wiring, hot air and heat exchange piping as well as the aircraft’s life-rafts.
Both parts were designed from scratch by DAe and are manufactured at the company’s production facilities located next to the O R Tambo International, Africa’s largest and busiest airport.
Having produced vital parts for the first A400M prototype aircraft, the company is currently ramping up its production to meet Airbus Military’s delivery schedules. Within the next four years DAe will manufacture 24 ship sets per year, moving off the production lines for final assembly in Seville, Spain.
Dockrat says a distinguishing feature of DAe is its “design to build” capacity – meaning that it is responsible for the entire production process, from the initial designs to delivery of the final product.
A key feature of the massive aircraft is the extensive utilisation of composite materials in its manufacturing. Composites such as carbon fibre, glass fibre and Kevlar bring benefits of flexibility and weight reduction to the manufacturing process without sacrificing strength and reliability. DAe has been a global pioneer in the use of composites in aircraft manufacturing for more than two decades, says Dockrat.
DAe’s manufacturing skills and capacity are also utilised in the production processes of other well-known international aircraft widely used by air forces and airlines across the world.
-- On the Gulfstream G150 it is responsible for the tail section – or empennage – consisting of the vertical tail fin, the horizontal section and the rudder that steers the aircraft. Manufactured by the US-based General Dynamics Company the G150 is one of the world’s most widely flown executive jets.
-- On SAAB’s Jas 39 Gripen fighter DAe manufactures the rear fuselage section, the main landing gear unit and the six under wing pylons that carry the armament, fuel tanks and high-definition cameras.
“Our participation in these international projects demonstrates the confidence of original equipment manufacturers in the high standards of our engineering skills and the quality of our production processes,” says Dockrat.
“Our company is on the cutting edge of aerostructure manufacturing and can make valuable contributions to ASEAN companies looking for industry partners.”
Source: Denel (Pty) Ltd.; issued April 17, 2012
Photo:The South African Air Force SAAB JAS 39 Gripen (Photo by SAAB)