29 November 2004
Public Enterprises Minister Alec Erwin opened Turbomeca Africa’s new manufacturing and maintenance facility adjacent to Johannesburg International Airoport on Friday.
The new facility will manufacture gearboxes and civil and military helicopter engines.
Turbomeca Africa is a joint venture formed two years ago by South African arms manufacturer Denel and French group Turbomeca, a subsidiary of Snecma.
The company manufacturers engines for both domestic firms and international companies such as Rolls-Royce and General Electric, and gives support to repairs and overhauls of civil and military helicopter engines in sub-Saharan Africa.
Denel owns 49% of Turbomeca Africa, while the French group owns the remaining 51%.
Turbomeca Group chairman Emeric d’Arcimoles said it was a vote of confidence that Turbomeca France was transferring its workload to Turbomeca Africa.
He said that engines from the French and British ministries of defence would be overhauled in South Africa from 2005, and that engines for Swedish and Malaysian military aircraft would also be exported by Turbomeca Africa.
“We are in the process of re-employing additional competency at the right place to support the growing 2005 demand from Snecma Group, international markets for manufacturing, repair and overhaul, and from the South African Air Force”, d’Arcimoles said.
Erwin said the establishment of the new facility was in line with the government’s plan to expand South Africa’s aerospace capabilities and gain entry into the global environment.
The venture was also part of the government’s initiative to restructure state-owned enterprises and strengthen their global competitiveness by allying them with foreign partners.
“Its an important area for us … to begin to invest in new technology so that we develop our capacity to export”, Erwin said. “We are confident that once we form partnerships with foreign companies, we will attract more foreign partners.”
Denel CEO Victor Moche said the new facility would be geared to become a “centre of excellence for engine manufacturing … We want to achieve a standard and be at a stage where the world knows that certain engines are made only in South Africa”.
According to Business Day, Denel was recently awarded a US$2-million contract by European military aircraft manufacturer BAE Systems to supply aircraft components for the production of Hawk jets for India’s airforce.