Aerospace industry gets wings

29 November 2004

South Africa’s strategy for aerospace industry growth is to encourage partnerships with international players in the field of component manufacture and maintenance. A number of new deals in the sector suggest the strategy is starting to pay off.

Turbomeca Africa, a joint venture between SA arms manufacturer Denel and French group Turbomeca, has opened a new manufacturing and maintenance facility adjacent to Johannesburg International Airoport.



The industry was also boosted recently by the announcement of a R110-million Anglovaal Mining investment in a new plant to produce super-alloy metals for Rolls-Royce engines.

According to Business Day, the plant, at Pelindaba outside Pretoria, is expected to produce 4 000 tons of the super-strong steel within three years, mostly for export, with potential earnings of R750-million a year for South African Airways (SAA).

The project forms part of offset deals linked to arms and aircraft purchases by the government and SAA.

Defence technology group Grintek also announced recently that it had secured two contracts with the Malaysian government.

Avitronics, a joint venture between Grintek and Saab of Sweden, has been awarded the first phase of a contract to supply Malaysia with 18 multi-sensor warning systems for its new Sukhoi fighter aircraft.

The first and second phases of the order are valued at over US$20-million, or R134-million, with the first phase starting immediately.

Grintek subsidiary Grintek Aviation Systems will also be supplying and installing instrument landing equipment to a civilian airport in Malaysia.

The two deals follow numerous negotiations between the two countries, helped by President Thabo Mbeki’s visit to Malaysia last year.

Aerospace Industry Support Initiative
The government has also announced the creation of the Aerospace Industry Support Initiative.

Speaking at the African Aerospace & Defence Trade Show in Pretoria in September, Trade and Industry Minister Mandisi Mpahlwa said the industry had the potential to stimulate export growth and – through international subcontracting arrangements – industrial innovation, competitiveness and growth further down the supply chain.

To be implemented in partnership with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, the Aerospace Industry Support Initiative will include a high-level advisory task team comprising a number of stakeholders, business people and industrialists.

The collaboration is expected to lead to the establishment of an Aerospace Centre of Excellence to support the development of skills, research, and technology. Other areas to be looked into include:

  • Standards and quality required in the industry.
  • Training of industry personnel.
  • Working with universities, science councils and other research and academic institutions.
  • Partnering with Brazil in the development of new products in the defence and regional travel industry, as well as utilising synergies between India, Brazil and South Africa.
  • The development of a local space industry. reporter