July 10, 2012 defense-aerospace.com
(Source: Denel; issued July 9, 2012)
Denel Aerostructures In Full Production of Airbus A400M Parts
Denel Aerostructures (DAe) has ramped up its production of prime parts for the Airbus A400M as the first aircraft destined for customers are coming off the assembly lines in Europe.
The CEO of DAe, Ismail Dockrat, said at the Farnborough 2012 International Airshow that it has gone into serial production mode now that the testing phase of the versatile airlifter has been reached maturity.
The South African manufacturing house, DAe is one of a select few companies outside of Europe responsible for the design and manufacturing of prime parts for the A400M. DAe is part of the Denel group, South Africa’s premier manufacturer of defence and aerospace products.
Located at the Denel campus in Kempton Park, DAe is responsible for the design, certification and manufacturing of:
• The Wing to Fuselage Fairing -- an essential aerodynamic part of the aircraft, positioned on the fuselage around the centre wing portion, certified to provide protection against lightning strikes, hail damage and bird strikes.
• The Top Shells -- made up of more than 1 100 parts consisting of a large machined skin, engineered out of an aluminium alloy. Each aircraft is fitted with two top shells, positioned in front of, and behind the wings where it is join into the fuselage. The 900 system brackets support the vital electric and electronic wiring, hot air and heat exchange piping and include the aircraft’s life-rafts.
Up to now DAe has been producing these parts to meet Airbus’ requirements for the flight testing of its prototype aircraft. The assembly line in Seville, Spain is currently working on the second serial aircraft, to be delivered to the French Air Force in early 2013.
The ramp-up means that Denel Aerostructures will increase production of its parts to meet Airbus demand of around 24 aircraft per year over the next two years and growing to more than two per month in the subsequent years. Airbus and Denel Aerostructures is in the process to transfer a third work package consisting of a build to print tail plane ribs and spars components manufactured out of composite materials. The company is busy consolidating all its operations under one roof in a move that will improve efficiencies and cut costs significantly.
Dockrat says the company’s participation in the manufacturing of one of the world’s most sophisticated aircraft is “a vote of confidence in the quality of local engineering and the skills of the work force.”
DAe was involved in the A400M from the start and designed the parts from scratch according to the manufacturers’ specifications. The manufacturing involves cutting-edge engineering processes including high-speed machining, heat treatment, structural testing and stress analysis.
On a recent visit to South Africa, Mr Cedric Gautier, the Head of the A400M programme said DAe is “one of Airbus’s most reliable suppliers for the manufacturing of the A400M. We are pleased with the quality of workmanship and the engineering know-how available in the company.”
Dockrat says the company will also use the Farnborough exhibition to sign an agreement with UK-based SKF which will manufacturer specialised struts that are attached to the Wing-to-Fuselage-Fairing.
He says Farnborough is an opportunity to showcase Denel Aerostructures’ unique experience and capabilities to a wider audience in both the military and civilian markets.
“We have experience in the design and manufacturing of strategic and prime parts on some of the world’s leading aircraft including the Airbus A400M, the SAAB Gripen fighter plane, the Agusta A109 Light Utility Helicopter and the globally popular Gulfstream G150 executive jet,” says Dockrat.