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Jun 22, 2007
New laboratory a public–private initiativeBack
The Department of Science and Technology (DST) and private-sector aviation company Aerosud are in the process of jointly establishing an Advanced Manufacturing Technology Labo-ratory (AMTL) for aviation as part of the DST’s Advanced Manufac-turing Technology Strategy (AMTS). The AMTL will be located in Aero-sud’s campus in Centurion, immediately south of Pretoria, alongside the company’s recently opened Inno- vation and Training Centre (ITC).
“The AMTL has investment from the DST – we want to see our people given the facilities to excel, to do their best,” affirms Science and Technology Minister Mosibudi Mangena. “We have our AMTS which, among other things, seeks to promote research and development in light metals and other materials. So we proposed and have been pushing for the establishment of the AMTL.”
“We want to implement the AMTL as soon as possible – we are awaiting approval of additional funding for further equipment – and it should be operational before the end of this year,” he reports.
Mangena officially opened the ITC on June 7. “Aerosud’s ITC is the practical side, the implementation side, of the AMTS,” he says. “What I have seen at this company has really lifted my spirits – to see something like the ITC, alive and functioning, is very uplifting.”
Founded in 1990, Aerosud is an established supplier of parts and components to many of the leading western aerospace groups – AgustaWestland, Airbus, BAE Systems, and Boeing – as well as supplying cabin interiors to a number of leading airlines, and products to military customers. It currently has an order book exceeding R4-billion.
For example, Aerosud designed, developed, and manufactures an infrared exhaust supression system for the AgustaWestland Super Lynx, which is fitted to Super Lynxes flying in the Middle East, and which has also been selected to equip the third-generation Future Lynx battlefield helicopter for the British Army Air Corps.
“It is wonderful to see implementation at this high level, in conjunction with very important world companies – we are capable of producing work of very high technical standards,” enthuses Mangena.
Another successful major Aerosud project has been the re-engining of former South African Air Force Dassault Mirage F1 fighters with Russian Klimov RD-33 engines, used in the MiG-29. A number of these re-engined Mirage F1s have been sold to the Gabonese Air Force.
In 2001, when Aerosud opened its current campus, adjacent to Air Force Base Waterkloof, it had 140 employees; today it has 520 and is in the process of increasing this to 700. In 2005, the company was manufacturing some 75 000 aircraft parts a year – now, the annual figure is about 400 000. More than 95% of the company’s sales are exports.
It employs global industry standard Catia software for its computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing processes. The company manufactures composites and thermo-formed plastics, undertakes volume production aluminium details in a dedicated facility, and executes structural fabrications and assemblies. It also outsources certain activities to smaller South African companies.
Edited by: Martin Zhuwakinyu
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor
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