Denel Aerostructures is well-placed to manufacture vital parts for the civilian aviation market‚ based on its experience on military aircraft for Saab and Gripen. The CEO of Denel Aerostructures (DAe)‚ Ismail Dockrat‚ said at the Farnborough International Airshow the company has just completed its final delivery on the production of components for the Gripen fighter for Saab.
(Image: Wikimedia Commons)
"Although we are optimistic that we will continue to do certain work packages for future Gripen variants we are also pursuing opportunities with other major Original Equipment Manufacturers such as Airbus‚ Boeing‚ Embraer and Bombardier‚" said Dockrat.
DAe is part of the Denel Group‚ South Africa's premier manufacturer of defence and aerospace products. It is the only top-tier manufacturer for the Airbus A400M‚ outside of Europe.'One of the world's best'
Dockrat said the company's work on the Gripen had confirmed its position as a quality manufacturer of parts for advanced fighter planes. The company had earned high praise from the Swedish manufacturer which recently referred to DAe as "one of the best suppliers in the world‚" and among the highest-rated contributors to the Gripen project.
The work packages were awarded to DAe as part of a Defence Industrial Participation Programme (DIPP) following South Africa's order for 26 Saab Gripen C and D aircraft in 1999.
Saab installed a Design and Development Centre at Denel Aerostructures‚ for the manufacturing of Gripen components. The rear fuselage section consists of more than 500 parts which are manufactured and assembled at DAe's plant in Gauteng‚ South Africa‚ before being shipped to Sweden for integration into the aircraft. The 2.5 x 1.5 metre section is made primarily of high-precision machining and sheet metal parts. Optimistic
Production of under wing pylons started in 2003 at a rate of six per month‚ with more than 200 pylons already delivered. With Sweden's entry into the European Union these pylons have been designed to meet NATO requirements. DAe also supplied 145 main landing gear units to Saab.
Dockrat said the company's experience on the Gripen and A400M projects would enable it to become a top tier supplier for any top global manufacturer‚ especially on projects with long production runs.
The company was in the middle of a financial turnaround process and was restructuring its production facilities to ensure a much leaner operation and a better utilisation of manufacturing space.
He was especially optimistic about potential opportunities in the civilian aviation market where airlines were renewing their fleet with more efficient aircraft to offset the rising price of fuel.
"Denel Aerostructures has proven it value as a partner in multinational projects‚ says Dockrat. "We have the capability and capacity to produce parts from the initial design phase through industrialisation and manufacturing to deliver on time‚ on quality and within budget."