17/08/2004 - 22:00

Airflite wins $18m RAAF deal

17/08/2004 - 22:00

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Western Australian aviation company Airflite has won a six-year, $17.6 million contract to maintain 97 different mechanical and avionics components on the Royal Australian Air Force’s PC9/A aircraft.

Airflite wins $18m RAAF deal

Western Australian aviation company Airflite has won a six-year, $17.6 million contract to maintain 97 different mechanical and avionics components on the Royal Australian Air Force’s PC9/A aircraft.

In defence-speak those components are known as ‘repairable items’.

These aircraft are used as trainers and by the RAAF’s Roulettes aerobatics team.

The $17.6 million contract adds to the $45 million Airflite has earned from the RAAF over the past decade for maintaining major components on the aircraft, such as wings and control surfaces.

Airflite managing director Homer Constantinides said the new defence contract meant the company was responsible for maintaining every repairable item on the plane except its engine and propeller.

He said previously the repairable items had been handled by 27 different contractors.

Mr Constantinides said Airflite may have to contract out some of the work to other companies but it was looking at growing its in-house abilities.

He said the company was also negotiating with the Federal Government about seeking a “life of type” contract for the PC9/As.

“The life of type should run to 2012 and possibly beyond,” Mr Constantinides told WA Business News.

To service its RAAF contracts Airflite now has operations at the RAAF Pearce base in Western Australia, Williamstown base in NSW and East Sale base in Victoria, along with its Jandakot headquarters. The East Sale base is where Airflite maintains the Roulettes aircraft.

The company is also the Australian agent for Martin Baker ejection seats.

Through this agency the company services the ejection seats in the RAAF’s PC9/As, the Hawk Lead-in Fighters and the F/A18 Hornets.

Mr Constantinides said the company was the only commercial operator in the region that maintained the UK-built Martin Baker ejection seats.

This role has also given the company an inroad into the Joint Strike Fighter project.

Mr Constantinides said the company had been involved in discussions about maintaining the JSF’s ejection seats in this part of the world.

Airflite turned to defence work in the early 1990s when the Federal Government first contracted out non-commercial activities to private industry.

Mr Constantinides said the company had two main divisions – defence and civil aviation support.

He said defence accounted for about 50 per cent of the company’s turnover but employed about 70 per cent of its workers.

The company, which was formed in 1980, had been a service and sales representative for Cessna in Australia.

But Mr Constantinides said that business came to “a sudden stop”.

“The Cessna company decided to stop production until litigation problems in the US were sorted out,” he said.

“We decided to go into other market sectors.”

In 1991 the company won its first defence job, landing its first PC9/A maintenance contract in 1994.

Airflite is once again a sales representative for Cessna – with the US plane maker is back in manufacturing – and services its single engine planes at Jandakot and in Victoria and Tasmania.

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