18 November 2013
European aircraft manufacturer Airbus has contracted South African aerospace company Aerosud to produce the fuselage linings, cockpit linings, galleys and wing tips for the full lifespan of its A400M military transport aircraft programme.
According to IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, Aerosud – which also supplies parts for Airbus’s A320 family of aircraft and A350XWB long-haul airliner – won the contract in open tender against a number of bidders from other countries.
Airbus delivered the first of a batch of 50 A400M military transport planes to the French Air Force in October. South Africa is one of a number countries working on the A400M programme.
“I am happy to re-affirm Airbus’ commitment to South Africa and its aerospace industry,” Airbus vice-president for international co-operation Simon Ward said at a media briefing to announce the contract in Pretoria on Friday.
“Today Airbus-related work is the main contributor to the sector by value, and probably by volume in terms of the sheer number of parts manufactured here for our programmes. We have contracted work with local industry worth about R4-billion. Last year alone, the value of Airbus-related manufacturing in South Africa was worth around R350-million.”
Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies, also speaking at Friday’s briefing, said the awarding of the contract demonstrated South Africa’s capacity for advanced manufacturing, and indicated growing international confidence in the country’s aerospace industry.
“The aerospace industry is a strategic one, one characterised by significant levels of value-addition and technology intensity,” Davies said. “Because the global industry is heavily concentrated with complex supply chains in which suppliers have to meet the highest global standards, it is safe to state that it’s not a small achievement for a South African company to have become part of this supply chain.”
Davies said the contract would provide sustained work, high-tech jobs and export revenues for South Africa, adding that successful military transport aircraft programmes tended historically to run for over 50 years.
Aerosud has benefited from the Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI’s) Aerospace Industry Support Initiative (AISI), which helps local aerospace companies to meet international standards, develop and commercialise new technologies, and gain international exposure.
Davies said the DTI had, through the AISI and the National Aerospace Centre programme, provided industry investment and skills development support worth R27-million to 169 organizations in 2012.
He added that Aerosud had shown how a close working relationship between the government and business was possible and sometimes necessary for companies to succeed in a highly competitive global marketplace.
“The lessons from this success should and must be used to support other companies, including black-owned companies, as part of government’s overall efforts to transform the economy and support black economic empowerment.”