The Aerospace Industry
The South African aviation industry is one of a number of industries that were boosted during the country’s long period of economic isolation. Today there is indigenous capability to make light aircraft and helicopters as well as a range of aircraft components.
South Africa is also a major location for aircraft refurbishing. Exports of refurbished aircraft amounted to R1,5bn in 2000, while exports of aircraft parts amounted to R400m. South Africa was the third-largest exporter of micro-light aircraft last year, representing 11% of world exports of this product. South African rankings in world exports of rotary-type aircraft engines and aircraft seats were respectively 12th and 10th.
The industry has developed excellent skills and manufacturing capabilities, as illustrated below:
- South Africa has built one of the most sophisticated helicopter gunships in the world (the Rooivalk), thereby paving the way for the manufacturing of commercial helicopters in South Africa.
- Present production includes light and micro-light aircraft, as well as parts such as propellers, avionics, gearboxes and engines.
- Aircraft service capability includes the maintenance, conversion and upgrading of large commercial and military aircraft.