SAAT, Rolls-Royce partnership takes off

Thursday, October 4, 2018

The Department of Trade and Industry (dti) has welcomed British industrial technology company Rolls-Royce’s partnership that will help deliver improved aircraft availability and skills.

Based at the South African Airways Technical (SAAT) premises at Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport, the facility is capable of storing a full range of Rolls-Royce engine types to meet the requirements of airline and business jet customers based or operating in Africa. 

Speaking at the opening of the company’s first lease engine storage facility in Africa, acting dti Deputy Director-General responsible for industrial development, Thandi Phele, said the partnership between the company and SAAT is crucial.

Rolls-Royce is providing technical training to SAAT staff to enable them to conduct work on engines in storage. The long-term goal is for SAAT mechanics to be capable of performing a range of inspection and on-wing services to Rolls-Royce customers on the continent.

Partnership beneficial to SA 

“This partnership between Rolls-Royce and SAAT is critical in many respects. It will not only allow SAAT the ability to store engines at this facility -- in compliance with engine manual requirements of Rolls-Royce -- but it will equip [SAAT] with the capability and capacity to offer technical support on a full range of Rolls-Royce engine types.

“[This will be in order] to meet the requirements of airline and jet customers based or operating in Africa. This is key for South Africa as an investment destination in Africa,” said Phele on Wednesday.

The partnership is supportive of not only South Africa’s but also the African continent’s economic development needs, Phele said.

“We appreciate the training programme that will be provided to SAAT staff to enable them to conduct work on engines in storage, and in future will be capable of performing a range of inspection and on-wing services to Rolls-Royce customers in Africa.”

Phele stressed that South Africa has a strong focus on improving investor and consumer confidence by fast-tracking structural reforms and higher levels of investment for economic growth.

This, she said, requires partnerships between government, business and labour, which are critical in boosting investor confidence levels.

“There cannot be a National Industrial Participation Programme (NIPP) without the partnership with international equipment manufacturers such as Rolls-Royce. As a country, we will benefit much from Rolls-Royce technical know-how. Going forward, we want to partner more on technology transfer and; research and development in the aspects of engine maintenance.”

The NIPP, as a lever of government procurement, is a policy aimed at creating mutually beneficial partnerships. It is also aimed at leveraging opportunities to develop industrial domestic capabilities that will drive industrialisation towards the fulfilment of job creation and economic growth.

Demonstrating SAAT capabilities

The facility can house every type of Trent engine, including the Trent 7000, which will soon power the Airbus A330neo into service. 

SAAT’s acting Chief Executive Officer Wellington Nyuswa said the agreement will enable the company to demonstrate its capabilities.

“This agreement enables us to demonstrate our capabilities to Rolls-Royce, with whom we’ve had a long-standing relationship as well as to other outside parties. It dovetails with our strategy to seek further revenue generating opportunities, and will enable our vision to be Africa’s leading world-class maintenance, repair and overhaul company,” said Nyuswa.

Meanwhile, the Vice President Customers Africa at Rolls-Royce, Kevin Evans, said the opening of the facility marks the start of a journey that will see SAAT play an expanding role in the development of available services across Africa.

“We have worked closely with South African Airways for a number of years, and we are delighted to be working with them on this initiative,” said Evans. –