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Latest news on the defence and aerospace sector.

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    Aviation systems engineering and manufacturing firm Embraer will open an aviation training centre at the OR Tambo International airport, in Johannesburg, in the first half of next year. The facility will be the first of its kind in Africa to provide this range of training for qualified pilots, maintenance technicians and cabin crew, Embraer Services and Support president and CEO Johann Bordais said in a statement on Wednesday.

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    Local orders are key to winning export contracts in the defence sector, Denel Land Systems (DLS) CEO Stephan Burger affirmed at the recent Aerospace, Maritime and Defence Conference in Pretoria. He cited the case of the order his company received for turrets for the Malaysian Army's new armoured fighting vehicle, the AV8.

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    The South African defence sector needs to bring home to the country the importance of defence for the technological, innovation and economic development of the country. So affirmed Armscor CEO Kevin Wakeford in his address to the recent fourth annual Aerospace, Maritime and Defence Conference in Pretoria. Armscor is the Department of Defence's acquisitions, disposals and research and development agency.

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    South Africa's space sector has been hobbled by lack of adequate support from the South African Government. This was made clear during a panel discussion on space technology at the recent Aerospace, Maritime and Defence Conference 2017 in Pretoria. "Most space programmes, worldwide, have been supported by governments," pointed out Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Legal and Compliance Chief Director  for Special Economic Zones and Space Affairs Nomfuneko Majaja. "It needs a strategic decision ... for a national [space] programme. Once a national programme has been decided, it must be funded."

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    Europe launched the sixth of its Sentinel Earth observation satellites on Friday as part of the multibillion-euro Copernicus programme to monitor volcanic ash and ultraviolet radiation. The Sentinel-5P satellite, part of a system of satellites that is to monitor Earth, blasted off on board a Rockot launcher from the Plesetsk cosmodrome in Russia's north-western Arkhangelsk region at 0927 GMT.

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    South Africa's soon-to-be-created Border Management Authority (BMA) will "hopefully" be funded by a new budget line, Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula told Engineering News Online on the fringes of the the Homeland Security Conference 2017, in Pretoria on Tuesday. "It shouldn't take money away from the Defence Force, it shouldn't take money away from any Government agency. The National Treasury will have to provide [the] money." The Government recognised the importance of securing the country's borders. "The BMA should have taken off yesterday," she said. (The creation of the BMA had been approved by the Cabinet and it now just awaited the President's signature on the proclamation to be created.) "It should be -- within three years, we'll see baby steps and within five years we'll see a fully-fledged BMA."

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    In his address to South Africa's first Homeland Security Conference, in Pretoria, on Tuesday, Armscor CEO Kevin Wakeford highlighted that it marked the first time that the defence and security industries were "sitting together". He asserted that the two sectors needed to work together. "We've got to start talking to each other." Furthermore, both these sectors, on the one side, and the government on the other, also needed to work together. There was a need, he said, to develop a national system to combat various threats, including organized crime.

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    Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises has started its keenly awaited inquiry into allegations of State capture, with a warning that key witnesses will not be allowed to shy away from appearing before Parliament. “We have a right to subpoena a witness if we think that witness has critical information. There is no one in South Africa who can say, ‘No, I’m not coming’ when called by the committee,” acting chairperson Zukiswa Rantho said on Tuesday.

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    The FBI has opened an investigation into US links to South Africa's Guptas, escalating a scandal over the family's alleged use of a friendship with President Jacob Zuma to control state businesses, the Financial Times said on Thursday. Separately, Britain's banking regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), said it was in contact with two UK banks over any possible links to the Gupta family.

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    Hydraulic components and turnkey hydraulic systems supplier Hytec Cape Town designed and constructed a 400 t thermoplastic press containing hydraulic components, for composite materials supplier AAT Composites, Hytec announced last month. A Recaro Group subsidiary based in Somerset West, AAT Composites’ newly constructed press is capable of deep-moulding composite materials up to 1 m2 for use in the manufacturing of components such as seat pans and interior panels in the aerospace industry.

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    The first development aircraft in Europe-based major aerospace group Airbus’ new A330neo (new engine option) family made its maiden flight on Thursday, from Toulouse-Blagnac Airport in France. The aircraft took off at 09:57 local time and landed at 14:10, having flown for four hours and 13 minutes. “Today’s [Thursday’s] first flight of the A330neo marks yet another milestone along the Airbus journey of continuous innovation,” affirmed Airbus chief operating officer and president of Airbus Commercial Aircraft Fabrice Brégier. “My congratulations and thanks go to all the teams who have contributed to make today’s flight happen, and to our customers for choosing this very efficient and capable aircraft to give them market advantage. We look forward to a successful flight test campaign and entry into service of the A330neo in 2018.”

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    South Africa has signed a military memorandum of understanding with Niger. Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula signed the agreement with her counterpart from Niger, Kalla Moutari, on Wednesday in her office in Parliament, where she met the Nigerian delegation.

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    Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown has appointed Zwelakhe Ntshepe group CEO of Denel. He joined Denel 21 years ago and most recently served as acting group CEO.

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    South Africa's soon-to-be-created Border Management Authority (BMA) will "hopefully" be funded by a new budget line, Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula told "Engineering News" on the fringes of the recent Homeland Security Conference 2017, in Pretoria. "It shouldn't take money away from the Defence Force, it shouldn't take money away from any Government agency. The National Treasury will have to provide [the] money."

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    Aerospace and defence company Paramount Group has acquired four dual-seat Mirage F1 fighter aircraft to enhance its existing pilot training capability.

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    The global aviation industry continues to be a rapidly growing sector, far from reaching maturity. This was stressed at the recent International Forum for Aviation Research (IFAR) open session at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in Pretoria by US National Aeronautics and Space Administration Associate Administrator for Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate Dr Jaiwon Shin. "Aviation is not a dying industry; it is not a mature industry. It is growing in leaps and bounds," he affirmed. "This is because countries are getting richer. In a lot of developing countries aviation demand is growing significantly." "Many countries have chosen aviation as a growth engine for their economies," he noted. "Dubai, the UAE [United Arab Emirates] is a really good example." Including the activities of national carrier Emirates, Dubai hopes to generate 40% of its gross domestic product from aviation.

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    The US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) had completed the design of, and hopes to soon build, a technology demonstrator aircraft to establish that it is possible at attenuate sonic booms to such a degree that it will permit overland supersonic commercial flight. Construction of this aircraft now just awaits the approval of the Nasa budget by the US Congress. "Why are we working on supersonics? Why is this so important? ... People want to go places, and speed is valued in that," explained Nasa Advanced Air Vehicle Programme Director Jay Dryer. He was addressing the Aeronautical Society of South Africa 2017 Conference at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) International Convention Centre in Pretoria. (He also attended the Eighth Summit of the International Forum of Aviation Research hosted by CSIR Aeronautics Systems at the same venue.) "There really is an international interest in this area," he added. "The reason is that it connects people around the world."

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    South Africa's Public Investment Corporation (PIC) needs to play a bigger role in improving governance in State-owned companies, its chief executive officer Daniel Matjila said on Tuesday. The PIC, which manages government employees' pension money, is the biggest investor in State-owned firms' debt instruments.

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    Irregular expenditure by government departments and State-owned entities has ballooned by over 50% in 2016/2017 when compared to the previous financial year, topping R45-billion, Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu revealed on Tuesday. “Irregular expenditure has increased by 55% since the previous year to R45.6-billion. This amount could have been higher, as it does not include the irregular expenditure of auditees where audits are still ongoing, including PRASA which had an irregular expenditure of almost R14-billion last year,” Makwetu revealed at a press briefing in Pretoria.

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    The first development aircraft in Europe-based major aerospace group Airbus’ new A330neo (new engine option) family made its maiden flight on October 19, from Toulouse-Blagnac Airport in France. The aircraft took off at 09:57 local time and landed at 14:10, having flown for four hours and 13 minutes.

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