South African defence equipment manufacturer Denel and Russian Helicopters, a leading international designer and manufacturer of helicopters, have signed an agreement to create a helicopter servicing hub for sub-Saharan Africa.
The agreement was signed at the 7th Africa Aerospace and Defence Exhibition (AAD) at the Waterkloof Air Force Base in Pretoria last week.
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, Denel chief executive 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.
Sub-Saharan maintenance hub
Denel Aviation CEO 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," Kgobe said.
Russian Helicopters CEO Dmitry Petrov said civil aviation was a high-growth market in Africa, and that 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," Petrov 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 will mean that teams of Denel Aviation engineers and technicians will be deployable at short notice to perform emergency repair work on helicopters across the continent.
For deeper-level MRO work, the aircraft will be transported to the company's facilities close to OR Tambo International Airport in Kempton Park, east of Johannesburg.
"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 for purposes ranging 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.
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