A Victorian small business has been awarded a major contract with the United States Navy to provide tailored aircraft maintenance work stands for the P-8A Poseidon aircraft.
CAPTION: Surveillance and Response Systems Program Office (SRSPO) members test out the United States and Australian versions of the 737 P-8A fuselage work stand manufactured by Victorian company AirFab. Story by Flight Lieutenant Laura Scougall. Photo by Leading Aircraftwoman Jacqueline Forrester.
AirFab, based in Ferntree Gully, Victoria, has won a contract worth more than $2.46 million to deliver Wide-Band Satellite Telecommunications System work stands specifically designed for the P-8A Poseidon Maritime Patrol aircraft.
AirFab Manager Michael Millsteed said working directly with Defence’s P-8A Management Unit gave AirFab direct engagement with the United States Navy that AirFab would not normally have had access to.
“This type of export opportunity not only provides growth and ongoing work to AirFab’s current staff, but gives us an opportunity to increase employment and training that supports a network of more than 20 small and medium-sized enterprises that we work with,” Mr Millsteed said.
“The materials we use in our equipment are 90 per cent Australian made, and the steel and aluminium are sourced from local manufacturers.”
AirFab developed the work stand design in collaboration with the Department of Defence and the United States Navy, to meet the unique requirements of the P-8A Poseidon.
Following a period of verification and validation during 2020, the United States Navy contracted AirFab to provide 22 stands.
In addition to supplying the United States Navy, AirFab are manufacturing eight work stands for the Royal Australian Air Force P-8A Poseidon fleet.
The purpose-built work stands allow technicians to access the P-8A Wide-Band Satellite Communication station, and to safely conduct fuselage inspections without overextending.
The stands are designed to withstand harsh environments such us those experienced at forward operating bases, and have integrated safety features to protect personnel.
AirFab employ 10 staff and have recently engaged an apprentice as a result of increased work secured to deliver the United States Navy contract.
Deputy Director of Defence’s P-8A Management Unit Wing Commander Adam Bowler said there is pride throughout the P-8A program in Australia’s ability to contribute, innovate and cooperate with the United States on the P-8A Poseidon program.
“The highly skilled Australian workforce that supports the P-8A partnership with the United States Navy has contributed significant improvements in the safety and longevity of our fleet,” Wing Commander Bowler said.
“Australia has supported the United States Navy capability via our domestic expertise in aircraft husbandry – our harsh environment and limited population centres demand proficiency in airframe degradation protection as well as dependable, deployable support equipment.”
Through collaboration with Defence and United States counterparts, Australian industry are receiving invaluable export opportunities, and contributing to the interoperability between Australia and the United States forces.