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Windfall for South African Aerospace Industry

South Africa’s aerospace industry will reap direct gains from China’s placement of the world’s largest single order for commercial jetliners, 150 A320s from European planemaker, Airbus.

Last year, BAE Systems signed a US$100-million strategic alliance with local aircraft component producer, Aerosud, taking over manufacturing of crucial wing leading-edge parts for the Airbus A320 programme. As a 20% Airbus shareholder, BAE Systems is responsible for designing and supplying wings for all Airbus planes.

“As a direct result of our collaboration with BAE Systems and Airbus, Aerosud, and South Africa, will benefit from China’s order (and other smaller – but still substantial – orders) for A320 Family jetliners. This is one of the most emphatic illustrations of how Government’s Industrial Participation policy has been able to deliver sustainable work to a sector that previously faced the prospect of withering on the vine,” explained Aerosud Managing Director, Dr Paul Potgieter.

Airbus has booked 350 orders for A320 Family aircraft since mid-October, confirming the jetliner family’s position as the world’s most popular and widely-selling jetliner. The A320 Family comprises four similar models (A318, A319, A320 and A321) varying only in passenger, cargo and fuel capacity, length and range.

“These latest orders will benefit our recently announced BEE shareholders, and will also add impetus to the development of a sub-tier supply base of Small- to Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMME’s) which Aerosud, in cooperation with the Department of Trade and Industry, is developing around the Aerosud main campus in Centurion,” Dr Potgieter added.

“Our collaboration with Aerosud exemplifies our commitment to partner with South Africa across a variety of sectors as we continue to fulfil our Industrial Participation obligations, but also as we seek to identify solutions for South Africa’s other emerging defence requirements,” said Jonathan Walton, Executive Vice President, South Africa for BAE Systems.

“Through this alliance, it is our intention to support Aerosud as it continues to carve a niche for itself as a world-class high quality, cost-competitive supplier of aircraft structures and interior components,” he added.

The BAE Systems-Aerosud strategic alliance forms part of the reciprocal Industrial Participation programme flowing directly from South Africa’s procurement of Hawk and Gripen fighters from the UK defence and aerospace group and its Swedish partner, Saab.

Under a separate agreement with Airbus, Aerosud is also manufacturing avionics bays – these house and protect the aeroplane’s sophisticated control systems, in the same way that our skulls contains our brains.

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