Quickstep Commences Aircraft Parts Manufacturing at Australian Headquarters

21 January 2008

Quickstep has started aircraft parts manufacturing at its Australian headquarters located in Fremantle, Western Australia.

Quickstep said that, while specific details of the manufacturing contract are confidential, they have responsibility for all aspects of the production engineering, tooling, manufacture and inspection of the composite aircraft components. It is expected that the parts will be certificated by Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) in the first half of the 2008 calendar year, and will be installed and flying shortly afterward.

The parts will be manufactured using AGATE qualified carbon/epoxy materials from Toray Composites (America) Inc. and Rohacell foam cores from Evonik Röhm GmbH.

Quickstep’s Managing Director, Mr Nick Noble, said the commencement of aircraft parts manufacturing in Australia was a watershed event for the Company.

“Our Fremantle headquarters are being re-engineered into a world-class aerospace manufacturing facility and we are now officially open for business – representing a major achievement for the Company,” he said. “It has necessarily been a lengthy procedure to prepare Quickstep for aerospace manufacturing, so we are delighted to have our first production contract underway in Australia, and will now look towards further enhancing our Fremantle facility to build a full scale aerospace manufacturing operation before the end of 2008.”

As part of the Company’s efforts to prepare the Fremantle site for aerospace parts manufacturing, Quickstep has utilised part of the funds raised through the $17 million ($AU) capital raising completed in November 2007, to purchase a range of new state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment that they hope will position the site as a world-class aerospace manufacturing facility.

The hub of the Fremantle site’s capability is a new CATIA Computer Aided Design (CAD) system, which allows direct data transfer to and from customers, and which has been fully integrated into Quickstep’s production engineering and inspection systems. The CATIA system is used by aerospace giants including Boeing, Airbus and Eurocopter, as well as many automotive companies.

In addition, a Leica Laser Tracker was delivered to the facility last week from Switzerland, providing Quickstep with the latest technology to measure and inspect patterns, tooling and manufactured parts and compare them against the CAD master geometry.

A number of additional items are currently on order, including three autoclaves, a Breton five axis machining centre, and a range of other smaller pieces of plant and equipment.

The autoclaves will be used to complement the Quickstep Process, and will include two 10m long x 3m diameter vessels used for manufacturing a combination of carbon composite tooling and production parts. A smaller 5m long x 2.4m diameter unit will be used to manufacture specialised silicon diaphragms for the Quickstep Process and advanced composite manufacture. The autoclaves are due to be delivered in June 2008.

The Breton five axis machining centre will have a working envelope of 4.5m x 2.5m x 1.5m, and is believed to be one of the most accurate of its kind in Western Australia. It will enable in-house manufacture of patterns and tooling vital to composite manufacture and provide the capability to machine highly complex geometries demanded by aerospace and automotive applications. This machine will be delivered to Quickstep in the third quarter of 2008.

“This new machinery will cement Quickstep’s Fremantle headquarters as a fully equipped, world class aerospace manufacturing centre,” Mr Noble said.

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