Boost to Queensland Helicopter and Composites Industries

03 August 2008

Queensland’s fibre composites and helicopter manufacturing industries will be given a boost with the launch of a new research program by the Cooperative Research Centre for Advanced Composite Structures Ltd (CRC-ACS).

The Helicopter Composite Structures Program, and the Brisbane Office, of CRC-ACS have been officially opened at the Australian Aerospace facility at Brisbane Airport on Thursday, 24 July.

The research program represents an investment of $10.5m over three years, and is supported by CRC Program Supplementary Funding from the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, as well as indirectly by the Queensland Government Smart State Innovation Fund.

The opening was performed jointly by Mr Mike Lawson, representative of the Australian Government Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Senator the Hon. Kim Carr, and Ms Jan Jarratt MP, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Tourism, Regional Development and Industry, Queensland Government.

In a separate statement, Senator Carr said that building capability within the Australian aerospace industry was critical to securing future contracts in a highly competitive international market. “Australia has been successful in creating world class aerospace technology, and securing significant design and manufacture contracts from major aerospace companies. I look forward to seeing this capacity extended for innovation in civil and defence helicopters through the CRC for Advanced Composite Structures, and to Australia increasing its regional and international influence in this sector.”

Ms Jarratt said the State Government was proud to support the Centre and that Queensland’s fibre composites industry would directly benefit from the CRC’s national and international relationships. “Australian Aerospace Ltd is the key participant in the new CRC-ACS program,” said CRC-ACS Chief Executive Officer, Prof. Murray Scott, “with other Queensland participants being the University of Queensland, BAC Technologies Pty Ltd, QMI Solutions Ltd, and Aviation Australia Pty Ltd”. Existing CRC-ACS Members, the Defence Science and Technology Organisation, University of New South Wales, and Pacific ESI Pty Ltd are also participating.

The rapidly-growing Australian Aerospace activity in Queensland includes the assembly, test and supply of ARH Tiger and MRH-90 helicopters to the Australian Defence Force (ADF). These state-of-the-art helicopters are largely made from carbon fibre composites, and panels will be made in Queensland by the Daher Australian Aerospace Joint Venture manufacturing facility under construction at Eagle Farm. The new research program will assist growth of the manufacturing facility and support of the ADF helicopter fleet by the development of improved manufacturing processes, the introduction of a rapid damage evaluation and repair capability, and research into novel energy-absorbing structures for increased crashworthiness.

“Continued development of advanced composite technology is of major importance to us,” said Australian Aerospace Chief Executive Officer, Dr Jens Goennemann, “and CRC-ACS possesses world class expertise in the development of technologies which offer potential weight and cost savings in the manufacture of composite wing, fuselage and other structures”.

CRC-ACS is a leading research and development organisation in design, manufacture, assembly, and support of composite structures. Through collaboration with its participants – major universities, industrial corporations and government research institutes – CRC-ACS fosters innovation in composites technology for a wide variety of applications.

The new Brisbane Office is already the base for eight researchers, and will be valuable in helping to support Queensland industries where composites are being introduced, such as Mining and Chemical Processing, Energy, Defence, Civil Infrastructure, and Building and Construction, as well as industries where composites are already extensively used – Aerospace, Marine, Transport and Motorsport.

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