The Aerospace Industry Support Initiative (AISI), a drive by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) that is hosted and managed by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), in Pretoria, is achieving its goal of bridging the gap between the South African aerospace industry and government, says AISI programme manager Marié Botha.
She explains that several projects, such as a hyperspectral unit and the Portable Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Ground Station, have been put in place to create national expertise and infrastruc- ture for the benefit of the aero-space industry.
“The AISI is responsible for the industrialisation theme of the DTI, which aims to improve the competitiveness of the aerospace industry. Further, an additional initiative that focuses on skills development is the National Aerospace Centre hosted at the University of the Witwatersrand.”
Botha highlights that the main focus of the AISI comprises industry development, tech-nology support and supplier development. The CSIR provides industry with access to expertise in aerospace and access to national infrastructure.
The titanium machining industry is also using CSIR national infrastructure and expertise, says Botha.
She explains that additive manufacturing is generally con-sidered a new and emerging manufacturing technology and has not been fully adopted by industry, owing to limitations in commercially available technology.
Traditional manufacturing technologies are often sub-tractive (materials are removed though a cutting or milling process). Additive manufacturing relies on various energy deposit-ing technologies to fuse mate-rials into three-dimensional functional near-net-shape parts, notes Botha.
The benefits are accelerated manufacturing cycles, reduced waste, decreased cost, reduced energy use and reshaped supply chains.
“The objective of this project is to develop suitable additive manufacturing build and quali- fication strategies for aero-dynamic and structural aero-space components,” says Botha.
The AISI is also working closely with communications solutions provider Satellite Authorisation Systems’ (SatAuth’s) Technology Demonstrator, notes Botha.
The goal of the project is to demonstrate the capability of providing a secure online mer- chant banking facility for com-mercial aircraft, using satellite communications technology combined with innovative software technology for mer-chants, she adds.
This will facilitate the online real-time authorisation of credit and debit card transactions on commercial flights.
The SatAuth server is small in dimension, and has minimal on-board weight, which ensures it is designed to be installed in a reduced overhead compartment with small and unobtrusive antennae.
The installation of this system can be achieved in less than eight hours, including quality assurance and testing.
The AISI support aims to demonstrate the technology. SatAuth has engaged airline South African Airways as the commercial airline to demon-strate the in-flight capability aboard two of its aircraft.
The AISI’s support will assist in demonstrating certification, installation on the ZS-SLA and ZS-SLF aircraft.
Sector Strategic-Support Initiatives
Tellumat has also benefited from the development of the Portable Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Ground Station project.
The project focuses on the design and development of a new ground control station for use in unmanned aerial systems environments, with a distributed network and communications management capability, while still being portable for use in commercial operations.