29 May 2007
29 May 2007
Quickstep has taken a step towards the large-scale production of component parts for the global aerospace sector, signing a Cooperation and Development Agreement (CDA) with Eurocopter.
The agreement establishes the framework for a long-term collaboration with Eurocopter to investigate, optimise and qualify the manufacture of composites parts for the helicopter giant. In time, the findings from this can be transferred to other members of its parent group EADS.
It also follows Quickstep’s announcement in March this year of plans to establish a new testing and manufacturing facility in Germany through a new subsidiary, Quickstep GmbH. At the same time, the Company announced the establishment of a Technology Advisory Board to promote Quickstep’s out-of-autoclave composites manufacturing process to the international aerospace industry.
The CDA with Eurocopter represents the first significant outcome of Quickstep’s decision to set up a new global manufacturing and testing facility in Germany.
Subject to success with the initial optimisation phase, the agreement lays the foundations for an industrialisation process leading to the commencement of commercial production of aerospace components using the Quickstep Process for a number of helicopter programs during 2008. The CDA follows extensive successful preliminary testing by Eurocopter, which indicated that Quickstep’s fluid-based composites manufacturing technology may improve performance and efficiency in the production of Eurocopter’s structural composite parts.
Under the CDA, a new Quickstep-owned QS20 production machine will be deployed inside the EADS group facilities in Ottobrunn, Munich. It also covers a guarantee to supply further QS equipment for production during 2008 and beyond.
Quickstep’s Managing Director, Mr Nick Noble, said the agreement with Eurocopter represented the Company’s most significant step to date towards entering the global aerospace parts manufacturing sector, establishing a long-term partnership with one of the world’s most significant aerospace companies.
“Preliminary testing by Eurocopter of the Quickstep Process for product performance and improved production efficiencies in aerospace grade components has been very successful, and Eurocopter has indicated its intention to quickly undertake further development work to bring this unique technology to market and become the first global aerospace group to do so,” Mr Noble said.
“The collaboration will see the completion of a landmark test work program by Eurocopter which is expected to lead to either a direct manufacturing partnership between Quickstep and Eurocopter for the production of aerospace components, and/or Quickstep’s approval as a qualified manufacturing subcontractor to Eurocopter,” Mr Noble said.
Dr Christian Weimer, Head of Production Technologies and Projects Eurocopter, said the new Quickstep Germany Project was designed to achieve technological readiness for the Quickstep Process.
“The target is to be ready to apply the process on future aircraft and helicopter programs as soon as possible. After significant research we are convinced of the potential for the Quickstep process to contribute to better performance in our products, and to a higher production efficiency as well as performance improvements” he said. “We intend to expand on the close cooperation with Quickstep to fast-track further basic development work to bring these innovations to the market as rapidly as possible. We want to be first to market with the application of Quickstep’s technology, and we will be working hard to achieve this.”
“Based on our own initial test programs, several projects are currently planned and funded. Working with a number of diverse partners, our aim is to further investigate and optimise the Quickstep process in order to be ready to start the industrialisation in 2008,” Dr Weimer added
In anticipation of a prompt start-up, senior management personnel, Dr Jens Schlimbach and Dr Amol Ogale, were recruited in January and have completed training in Perth. They returned to Germany during April and they will supervise day-to-day operations, carry out project work and provide expert advice on Eurocopter’s production requirements and tooling specifications. They are also working on finalising the proposed site and preparing the infrastructure requirements for the arrival of the QS20 machine, expected before the end of May.
Ceramicx, Ireland, has completed an 1800 m2 expansion to its production facility, doubling capacity for the manufacture of infrared heating equipment for the composites industry.
Solvay has inaugurated a new centre in Wrexham, UK, for manufacturing structural adhesives and surfacing films for the aerospace market.
The new laboratory facilities of recently founded TPAC (ThermoPlastic composites Application Centre) were opened by Anka Mulder, President of Saxion University of Applied Sciences, the Netherlands, on 14 September.