SouthAfrica.info (Johannesburg)

Africa: Denel Flight Tests Grow African Ops

South African defence manufacturer Denel is growing its business operations in the rest of Africa with its mobile telemetry vehicle, which supports flight tests in remote locations, the company announced last week.

In the past, specialised flight test training could only be done in South Africa, Denel Aviation's chief executive officer, Mike Kgobe, said in a statement.

"We are taking our highly skilled pilots and engineers as well as our state-of-the-art technology to the client, cutting the costs and effort to fly the planes out to South Africa for testing," Kgobe said.

Maintenance and repair services will also be available to military and civilian aircraft across the continent. "We are playing an increasingly important role to support defence forces and commercial aviation industry in Africa through flight testing and top quality maintenance of their fleets."

Denel's flight test centre offers a range of services provided by the most qualified and experienced pilots, according to the centre's manager, Derick Matthee.

"Test pilot applicants need a minimum 750 hours of pilot-in-command time and be medically qualified to perform flight duties, while the engineers need a Bachelor's degree in maths, science or engineering plus medically qualified to perform flight duties," he said.

The experimental test pilots also gained their initial experience in the military followed by the professional test pilots course at schools in the United Kingdom or United States.

"Our primary responsibility is aviation safety," Matthee said. "Once the aircraft has passed or flight testing, the client can be absolutely assured that it is 100% safe and ready for regular flying duties."

Denel Aviation has recently completed engine development testing for the South African Air Force's Hawk-120 Lead-in Fighter Trainer, as well as extensive flight testing of 12 Cheetah fighter jets and pilot training for the Ecuadorian Air Force, among other work for international clients.

"The unrivalled qualities and experience of the company's test personnel are matched by the facilities and world-class equipment offered by Denel Aviation," said Kgobe.

Real-time data processing, formatting and display are performed by dedicated work stations through an open network data system.

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