Australian Aerospace

Australian Aerospace Limited is a wholly owned subsidiary of Eurocopter - a part of the European Aeronautic Defence & Space Group (EADS). Created in 2003 through the merger of Eurocopter International Pacific Limited and Australian Aerospace Pty Ltd, the company has evolved into a major defence supplier to the Australian Government. With more than 1000 staff in Australia and New Zealand and access to the financial strength and expertise of Eurocopter and the EADS Group, the company is well-positioned to manufacture and support military and civil helicopters in the Australia-Pacific region. In addition to its helicopter capabilities, Australian Aerospace has a long history of fixed wing support to the Australian Defence Force.

Currently it is assembling and delivering 22 ARH Tiger armed reconnaissance helicopters to the Australian Army and 46 MRH90 multi-role helicopters to the Army and Navy. It also provides support for the RAAF AP3C Orion reconnaissance aircraft and, until recently, the now retired Caribou transport fleet. Last year it commenced a through-life-support role for C-130J Hercules transports. The company is also involved in supporting the RAAF’s new Airbus A330-based Multi-Role Tanker-Transport (MRTT) aircraft.

Australian Aerospace is also a contender to provide a replacement for Navy’s ageing Seahawk helicopters. Australian Aerospace – one of two competing bidders – is offering the NFH NATO Frigate Helicopter variant of the NH90 Family.

As a leading aviation company in the Australia-Pacific region, it has made a number of commitments to assist Australian SMEs and Tier 2 companies access the global supply chains of Eurocopter and the broader EADS Company. Australian Aerospace recognises the important benefits that access to these supply chains provides local firms in building and sustaining world class competitive industrial capabilities. Australian Aerospace also benefits from having local suppliers able to support leading edge technologies and equipment in-country.

Ferra Engineering (Ferra) is a small privately-owned firm employing around 100 people based in Tingalpa, South East Queensland. It is one of Australia's leading manufacturers of light metal components for the defence, aerospace, electronics and automotive industry sectors. Ferra produces high quality machined alloy aircraft flight control components for the Eurocopter Tiger helicopter and the NHIndustries (NHI) NH90. The Tiger components are exported to Eurocopter’s Tiger assembly lines in France and Germany for incorporation into aircraft under construction. The NH90 components are exported into Eurocopter’s global supply chain where they are used in NH90s being assembled and operated all over the globe.

Australian Aerospace facilitated the then Australian Defence Industries (ADI) - now a core element of Thales Australia - to secure contracts for the manufacture and export of key components to the Eurocopter Tiger and NHI NH90 production lines. At its Sydney facilities, ADI manufactured and tested Tiger electrical harnesses, and assembled and tested Helmet Mounted Sight and Display (HMSD) systems for export to the European Tiger programs. Further, following on from its success in providing Communication Controller Modules for the ARH communication system, Australian Aerospace was able to lobby Eurocopter to award the development contract for a similar component to ADI for the Spanish Tiger program.

Given ARH’s success, Australian Aerospace facilitated ADI’s inclusion in the NH90 global supply chain. Thales Australia currently assemble and test the HMSD and Internal Communications System (ICS) components for export into Thales’ global supply chain.

Hawker de Havilland (HdH) (renamed as Boeing Aerostructures Australia in 2009) is located at Fishermans Bend in Melbourne where it has moved from design, manufacture and assembly of aircraft to being a world class manufacturer of aircraft components for leading manufacturers, and is highly regarded for its work in the area of advanced composite carbon fibre technology. EADS’ Airbus business unit placed a contract with HdH for the development and production of winglets to be used on the latest generation A380 airliner. These components were supplied by HdH to the Airbus production lines in Toulouse, France. The ongoing support sourced from HdH was strengthened by the success of the ARH Program.

Avalon Systems (acquired by Ultra Electronics in 2009) was a small independent 100% Australian owned engineering company specialising in the electronic warfare sector. Through its support of Australian Aerospace on the ARH program, Avalon Systems received subsequent contracts from EADS’ Defence Electronics business unit to conduct research and development and engineering support tasks that will aid the future development of EADS electronic warfare systems. This activity also involved the secondment of Avalon Systems engineering specialists to EADS’ German facility.

Australian Aerospace engaged the Melbourne-based intellectual property law firm, White Cleland, to conduct a training and audit program aimed at increasing the ability of Australian defence SMEs to profitably maintain, commercialise and protect their intellectual property rights. The SMEs who participated in the program were able to improve their preparedness to export goods and services to overseas customers and participate in global supply chains.

Production Parts is a small privately owned company located in Melbourne, Victoria. Production Parts specialises in high precision CNC machining, gear cutting/grinding, precision overhaul, through-life-support, maintenance and repair. Production Parts produces high quality machined components for the NH90. The NH90 components are exported into Eurocopter’s global supply chain where they are used in NH90s being assembled and operated throughout the world.

Australian Aerospace in conjunction with Eurocopter and EADS established an Australian Trade Business Facilitator at EADS corporate headquarters in Munich, Germany. This senior position supported the development and internationalisation of Australian niche aerospace and electronics related technologies and promoted these local capabilities into EADS and Eurocopter.

The principle of the activity was to establish a dedicated point of contact supporting Australian business within EADS. This facilitator played a role of a “Bureau de liaison” between Australian SMEs and the central purchasing directorates of EADS and its business units.

Australian Aerospace worked with the Australian Trade Commission (Austrade) and State Governments to assist small to medium sized aerospace and electronics enterprises to promote competitive niche technologies internationally to EADS. This assistance was in the form of information and training sessions, company briefings and marketing assistance.

Cablex, located in East Bentleigh in Victoria, is a progressive, leading regional manufacturer of electrical and mechanical systems. Cablex successfully bid for a contract to provide electrical harnesses for the MRH90 (the Australian version of the NH90). Subsequent to Cablex’s success with the MRH90 and with Australian Aerospace’s support, the company was selected by Eurocopter to provide electrical harnesses into Eurocopter’s global supply chain for the NH90.

The Cooperative Research Centre for Advanced Composite Structures (CRC-ACS) brings research providers and composites businesses together to develop competitive technology for Australian industry. Since its inception in 1991, it has grown to become one of the leading composites research organisations recognised throughout the world. Australian Aerospace and the CRC-ACS have teamed on a number of projects, including:
• Composite Structure Manufacturing and Product Support Systems and
• Composite Helicopter Component Manufacturing System.

Learnings acquired by Australian Aerospace and the CRC-ACS through these research projects may be used to inform and improve Eurocopter’s composite manufacturing capabilities globally.

In addition, Australian Aerospace Composites (AAC) was established in 2008, initially as a joint venture between Australian Aerospace Limited and Daher Aerospace. AAC operates out of a purpose-built facility in the Trade Coast Central industrial estate in Eagle Farm, Brisbane. AAC’s initial work packages mainly relate to major composite components for EC’s global supply chain for the ARH Tiger, MRH 90 and Super Puma helicopter programs. This includes production of MRH90 Tail Rotor Blades for the global supply chain. AAC currently employs 42 personnel and these numbers are expected to climb progressively as the complex grows and increases production output. Today, four Eurocopter job packages are working up to or are in serial production, and AAC is seeking additional manufacturing work from a wider group of OEMs to increase the facility's output.

Australian Aerospace is committed to providing opportunities for local businesses to take an active part in assembly and support of aircraft and systems in-country, and supporting their integration into the global Eurocopter and EADS supply chains.

APDR at a glance