South Africa looks to improve aerospace competencies

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South Africa looks to improve aerospace competencies

05 September 2010

At the recent South Africa-Brazil Business Forum that took place in July 2010, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and South African President Jacob Zuma discussed the possibility of cooperation in aerospace, among other fields. South Africa is on Brazil’s list of desirable countries for a strategic partnership in the Embraer KC-390 military transport and air-to-air refuelling aircraft program.

Aerosud was formed in 1990 by the then key designers of the South African Rooivalk Combat Support Helicopter, together with similar leaders from the Cheetah fighter program (Mirage III upgrade) and the Product Support Environment. Today, deeply involved in both civil and military aviation engineering projects, company activities cover design, development, prototyping, manufacture and in service support.

In January 2010, the facility near Pretoria hosted Root Cause Corrective Action and Introduction to Pyrometry training sessions for South African aerospace companies. Special Process Auditor Darnelle Hood explains why.

“My company holds Nadcap accreditation for chemical processing and heat treating. Despite being involved with the program since 2007, we knew that there were areas we could improve: root cause corrective action has always been a challenge, for example.

“As we are not based in the USA or Europe, it is difficult for us to send personnel to training classes due to the cost and time required for international travel. Consequently, even if we did decide to send someone, we could realistically only send one person. We would then have to rely on that individual to accurately share what they had learned with the rest of us in order to be worthwhile.

“We realized that a better approach would be to host a class at our own facility: we could train multiple staff simultaneously while keeping costs low by opening the session up to external parties. In the end, there were 28 participants in the Root Cause Corrective Action class and 19 in the Introduction to Pyrometry class.

“There were three principle benefits we gained from the training:

  1. The opportunity to “pick the brain” of an expert: having an instructor on-site meant we could really focus on our needs and keep discussing issues until we understood them.
  2. Improved internal understanding: by having the class on-site, we were able to train shop-floor staff as well as management. As a result, production staff understands quality better and the departments are able to communicate more effectively.
  3. Better audit outcome: because of our improved understanding of RCCA, the following month, when we had a Nadcap audit, we reduced our cycle time by one-third and the days needed to respond by 15% compared to the previous audit.”