Airbus Defence and Space has awarded a multi-million Rand contract to Denel Aerostructures (DAe) for production of key parts for the A400M Atlas military transport aircraft.

Under the ZAR260m ($24.1m) contract, the company will manufacture ISO locks for integration into the cargo hold of 174 A400M aircraft, which are scheduled to be delivered to international clients over the next six years.

The tactical airlifter aircraft has been ordered by the air forces of Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Spain, Turkey and the UK.

Denel Group CEO Riaz Saloojee said: "The new contract strengthens our relationship with Airbus Defence and Space and sends a signal to the global aerospace sector about the know-how and experience available in the South African manufacturing industry."

"The company will manufacture ISO locks for integration into the cargo hold of 174 A400M aircraft."

Production of the ISO locks has already commenced, and the first shipment comprising four sets of parallel aluminium rails and 32 cross-tracks, is expected to be delivered to Airbus’ fuselage assembly facility in Bremen, Germany, by September.

The company intends to ramp up the serial production in 2015 to be able to deliver at least 20 ship sets annually over the six-year contract period.

DAe CEO Ismail Dockrat said the company will also manufacture a different rail system for loading of smaller containers as sought by some foreign customers under a separate ZAR70m ($6.5m) contract.

The central guide vehicle restraint system loads smaller containers that are usually filled with humanitarian aid, food and other supplies onto the A400M for air-dropping in the event of emergencies.

DAe is also responsible for production of the airlifter’s wing-to-fuselage fairing and ribs, spars and swords, while its local supplier base will be subcontracted for some of the manufacturing processes.

Image: An Airbus Military A400M prototype at the 2010 Farnborough Airshow in UK. Photo: courtesy of MilborneOne.

Defence Technology