DTI support to boost SA aerospace exports
The aerospace industry is enhanced by the setting up of a joint aerospace steering committee at the Africa Aerospace show.
By Helmo Preuss
The aerospace industry support initiative (AISI) launched by the Department of Trade and Industry (dti) in 2005 was enhanced by the setting up of a joint aerospace steering committee (JASC) at the Africa Aerospace and Defence 2012 exhibition at Waterkloof Air Force Base on Thursday.
This would result in a boost to SA exports as the SA industry was increasingly integrated in to the global aerospace supply chain‚ chief director Nomfuneko Majaja said.
“SA has the largest aerospace industry in Africa and is already part of the global supply chain. The AISI is a fully government funded mechanism‚ which exists to support the SA aerospace industry."
"The aerospace sector development plan recommended that a JASC be set up to further improve co-ordination in the sector. The chairperson of the JASC will be independent and a sector expert and will have its own secretariat. It will initially meet on a monthly basis and then move later to a quarterly meeting schedule‚” she said.
SAAB Technologies SA President Magnus Lewis-Olsson said at a media briefing that SAAB had delivered the last of the Gripen fighter jets to the South African Air Force in April‚ and there would be ongoing support for the fighter with software upgrades every two to three years.
“What I am personally most exited about is the land electronic defence system (LEDS)‚ which was developed at our Capricorn research and development centre in Cape Town. The system sounds like science fiction but is already in prototype mode and should be ready by 2015.
The system will protect vehicles from laser designated ammunitions such as rocket-propelled grenades. Although the research is funded from Sweden‚ the intellectual property resides with SA. This could have a major impact on South African exports once it is sold to countries like Brazil or India‚” he said. SA has about 140 companies in the aerospace and defence sectors whose products were on display at Waterkloof.
In addition to South African products‚ other countries such as China‚ Russia and the US were showcasing their products with buying interest from the militaries of countries such as India and other African states.
One of the initiatives supported by the AISI is the Centurion Aerospace Village‚ which is located next to the Waterkloof Air Force Base.
This is a Section 21 company that is a high technology aero-mechanical manufacturing cluster.
Another AISI initiative is the National Aerospace Centre (NAC) located at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.
The NAC aims at raising awareness amongst students about careers in aerospace and co-ordinates relevant research amongst South African universities.