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Australian Aerospace Ltd

Australian Aerospace Limited (Australian Aerospace), Australia’s only helicopter producer, is Australia-Pacific’s leading supplier of civil and military helicopters and aerospace services including fixed-wing military maintenance and support. The company is wholly owned by the world’s largest helicopter manufacturer Eurocopter, itself being part of the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS). The company can trace its heritage in Australia back to 1927 and with a turnover in 2009 of $A780 million, Australian Aerospace employs more than 1100 people across 14 sites in Adelaide, Auckland, Bankstown, Brisbane, Darwin, Ingleburn, Moorabbin, Oakey, Redcliffe, Richmond, Sydney and Townsville.

The purpose of Australian Aerospace is to serve its customers by:

  • assembling and delivering military Eurocopter products;
  • supporting Army, Air Force and Navy aerospace systems;
  • selling, delivering and supporting civil Eurocopter products and associated services;
  • identifying and creating opportunities across the range of Australian Aerospace, Eurocopter and other EADS products and services.

Australian Aerospace Limited is a wholly owned subsidiary of Eurocopter which is, in turn, a part of the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS). At the time of EADS creation in 2000, the company had lost touch with Australia since two decades, and Australia was a traditional customer of American companies. In addition, bilateral political relations had been severely damaged by the resumption of France’s nuclear testing in the Pacific in 1995; a situation which was further degraded by the Iraqi crisis of 2003. Consequently, when Jean-Paul Gut, EADS Executive Vice President, met the Australian Foreign Minister in 2003, he was told that even if they liked the company and its products, EADS would have to bear a political penalty in the competitions EADS were involved in.

Despite these major obstacles, EADS decided to consider Australia as a top priority, given the very important business prospects for the years to come in the civil and military fields. In addition to the opening of EADS International offices in Canberra and Sidney, a strategic decision was made in 2001 to invest locally with the acquisition by Eurocopter of the defence activity of Hawker Pacific and its merger with the small EADS helicopter subsidiary to create Australia Aerospace.

In June 2001, European Aeronautic Defense & Space Co NV {EADS NV} announced it was buying Hawker Pacific, a defense subsidiary of Australian Aerospace, from Saab of Sweden. EADS acquired Australian Aerospace Pty Ltd, a manufacturer of aerospace and defense products, from Hawker Pacific Pty Ltd. in late June 2001. "Hawker Pacific's sale of the defence section within the company is part of the work to streamline Saab's operation, and it also benefits Hawker Pacific's business in Australia", Gert Schyborger, a member of Saab's executive management, said in a statement. Under the agreement, EADS acquired 100 percent of the defense activities of Hawker Pacific of Australia's Australian Aerospace defense subsidiary.

Hawker Pacific Aerospace, the multinational aircraft parts and repair company operating in the US and UK, is a descendant of the Hawker Siddeley Company. Hawker Pacific Aerospace was formed in 1980 within British Aerospace, and merged with Dunlop Aviation Inc. in 1994. Lufthansa Technik, a subsidiary of Deutsche Lufthansa, acquired Hawker Pacific in 2002. Hawker Pacific Aerospace sometimes confused with the larger Hawker Pacific Pty Ltd., which sold and maintained civilian and military aircraft and helicopters, and which had a chain of Australasian FBOs.

Created in 2003 through the merger of Eurocopter International Pacific Limited and Australian Aerospace Pty Ltd, the company has evolved into a major defence supplier to the Australian Defence Forces and leading regional civil helicopter retailer. As of 2003, Australian Aerospace had 230 staff and a turnover of AUD64M with facilities in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Auckland. Within the following 3 years, Australian Aerospace planned to increase its staff to approx. 350 people and generate a turnover of AUD400M per year.

As of 2003 a new purpose built facility was under construction at Brisbane International Airport adjacent to the existing Caribou Support facility. The new building would accommodate the Assembly and Test Activity and become the headquarters for the acquisition and through life support activities. The Tiger assembly program commenced in April 2003 and extended until 2008. To capitalise on the skills that would be developed through the Tiger Program and to expand the Australian Industrial base, Australian Aerospace also assembled and tested a new generation civilian helicopter at the new Brisbane complex. This aircraft is the Eurocopter EC120B Colibri which would commence assembly mid 2003. The initial production rate was to be 3 aircraft per quarter with the capability of producing up to 24 per annum.

New helicopters sales, logistics and technical support and on-line maintenance were controlled from the Civil Aircraft business unit at Bankstown Airport in Sydney. The Bankstown facility had a fully equipped dynamic component overhaul and blade repair facility and was a Eurocopter center of Excellence for helicopter technology and deep level maintenance, both locally and for Asia & Japan. The export in this region of these activities for the Eurocopter product range was rapidly expanding.

This EADS footprint directly contributed to the opening of the Australian market. Between 2001 and 2005, EADS won five major contracts involving three different Business Units. Real business started in 2001 with the sale by Airbus of 13 A330s and 12 A380s to Qantas (€ 3,1 bn). At the end of the same year, the Australian armed forces signed a major contract with Eurocopter for 22 Tiger attack helicopters (vs. the Apache). These first successes enabled EADS to create a climate of confidence and to dramatically increase our market share in Australia. In 2003, EADS presented in association with Qantas Defence a successful offer for 5 Airbus A330 Tankers against the Boeing 767 MRTT, which was the first step in breaking the near-monopoly of Boeing on the world-wide tanker market. This contract was followed by 20 A320s sold to JetStar; and by the selection of the NH90 against the Sikorsky BlackHawk in 2004 after a fierce competition. This was the second export of this helicopter out of Europe. Finally, New Zealand also decided in favor of the NH90 a few months later.

Australian Aerospace plays a crucial role in advancing the Australia-Pacific region’s defence and commercial aviation capabilities. We set the benchmark for military and civil helicopters and military mission fixed-wing aircraft. The company 's success and reputation comes from the expertise of personnel combined with the knowledge and financial strength of Eurocopter. The company is committed to developing local industry capabilities. Regional organisations are contracted to manufacture and support crucial parts of Australian Aerospace programs including composite structure components, engines, avionics, electronic defence equipment and mechanical parts.

Australian Aerospace’s ARH Tiger and NH90 MRH projects have been associated with extensive Australian industry programs resulting in $A1.7 billion of activity injected into the local aerospace industry, including $A100 million of direct investment. Through the company’s helicopter and fixed-wing programs, Australian Aerospace is transferring knowledge between Australia and Europe, building local expertise and showcasing Australian and New Zealand knowledge and capabilities.

At its production facility on Brisbane Airport, Australian Aerospace assembled 22 Tiger ARH armed reconnaissance helicopters for the Australian Army and 46 MRH90 multi-role helicopters for the Army and Navy. In addition to its helicopter capabilities, Australian Aerospace supports the Royal Australian Air Force's (RAAF) AP-3C Orion reconnaissance aircraft and C-130J Hercules transports. The company is also involved in supporting the RAAF's new Airbus A330-based Multi-Role Tanker-Transport (MRTT) aircraft and F/A18 (Classic) Hornet fighters.

Under the AIR 9000 Phase 8 program, the Federal Government is considering the NH90 NFH and the Sikorsky Lockheed Martin MH-60R, which was designed nearly 40 years ago, as the new RAN combat helicopter to replace the ageing Seahawk and cancelled Super Seasprite helicopters.Australian Aerospace announced plans to create 750 highly-skilled jobs to build the NH90 NFH (NATO Frigate Helicopter) for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). More than 250 of those long-term jobs would be at the company’s helicopter assembly plant in Brisbane. Australian Aerospace revealed plans to inject a further $1.2 billion into the Australian economy over 15 years through the NH90 NFH program. This is in addition to the $2 billion of economic activity Australian Aerospace already is contributing to the Australian economy through its other military helicopter programs.

Australian Aerospace underlined its long-term commitment to the nation’s helicopter industry, in the wake of the Federal Government’s decision not to purchase the company’s NH90 NFH under Air 9000 Phase 8. Dr Jens Goennemann, Chief Executive Officer Australian Aerospace said the company was disappointed with the decision, but has existing assembly and maintenance contracts and will continue to explore opportunities. “While the Federal Government’s decision means we won’t be able to create the 750 highly-skilled, long-term jobs we planned, Australian Aerospace will continue to employ staff working on our present programs.”

“The current MRH90 and ARH Tiger assembly and associated Through-Life Support contracts, Fixed-Wing Programs and civilian activities will keep our Brisbane plant and other facilities across Australia operating at a high level.” Dr Goennemann thanked the Queensland Government for its steadfast support of the NFH bid while also thanking the company’s Australian industry partners for their support in preparing the tender. “Our supporters and industry partners were with us throughout the tender process. It is regrettable that Australian industry has missed out on this significant opportunity,” he concluded.

In March 2011 Australian Aerospace and Eurocopter continued to expand their supply base in Australia by involving locally based Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the negotiation and signature of a new contract scope between Australian Aerospace, Eurocopter and Production Parts Pty Ltd, for NH90 machined components. The new work capitalised on existing capabilities at Production Parts’ Melbourne facility thus sustaining jobs and skills developed previously on the ARH Tiger and MRH90 programs.

In the future, work with suppliers such as Production Parts, will be facilitated by the Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO) Global Supply Chain initiative. In support of this initiative, Eurocopter and Australian Aerospace signed a Deed of Agreement with DMO in October 2010 with the view of establishing a Global Sourcing Office (GSO). The strategic objective of the GSO is to further open the Eurocopter supply chain to Australian companies, particularly SMEs, by giving them access to appropriate opportunities allowing them to compete for Eurocopter and its vendors’ global needs.

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Page last modified: 27-03-2012 18:13:04 ZULU