Pretoria — Denel, South Africa's largest defence equipment manufacturer and Russian Helicopters, a leading global designer and manufacturer of helicopters on Wednesday signed an agreement to create a helicopter servicing hub in Africa.
The agreement was signed at the 7th Africa Aerospace and Defence Exhibition (AAD) which kicked off at the Waterkloof Air Force Base in Pretoria.
Through the agreement, Denel Aviation, a division of Denel is now the only company in sub-Saharan Africa accredited to perform maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services for models produced by Russian Helicopters.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Chief Executive of Denel, Riaz Saloojee, said the agreement would significantly expand the company's business in Africa and strengthen its position as the premier provider of MRO services on the continent.
Chief Executive Officer of Denel Aviation Mike Kgobe said Denel's objective was to become the maintenance hub for most of the modern commercial and military aircraft operating in sub-Saharan Africa.
"The agreement represents the culmination of a long-standing partnership between the two companies," he said.
Russian Helicopters Chief Executive Officer Dmitry Petrov said civil aviation was a high-growth market in Africa, and that the Russian Helicopters was well positioned to be a market leader on the continent for years to come.
"We see great potential for our helicopters in countries across Africa, and are delighted to be working with Denel Aviation to provide a complete customer care programme for our clients on the continent," he said.
From October, Denel Aviation technical staff will attend an intensive training programme on the latest Russian Helicopters technology and procedures in the eastern Siberian city of Novosibirsk.
This means that teams of Denel Aviation engineers and technicians can be deployed at short notice to perform emergency repair work on helicopters across the continent.
For deeper-level MRO work, the aircraft can be transported to the company's facilities, located by the OR Tambo International Airport in Kempton Park.
"Our knowledge of the African geography and climatic conditions and the track record of our products that have been extensively deployed in operational conditions, make us a logical partner of choice to the military and civilian markets on the continent," Kgobe said.
Russian Helicopters manufactures an extensive line-up of versatile and resilient helicopters that can be used for purposes from cargo and passenger transport to medevac and search-and-rescue missions, fire-fighting, corporate transportation and offshore in the oil and gas sector.
Russian Helicopters has been sole vendor of Russian-built civilian helicopters to foreign clients since consolidation of the country's helicopter manufacturing sector was completed in 2010.
At the Africa Aerospace and Defence Exhibition, Russian Helicopters is showcasing a diverse line-up of civil and military helicopters.