Quickstep Holdings enters the composite aircraft parts market

Quickstep Holdings Ltd. (North Coogee, Western Australia) announced on Jan. 16 the commencement of aircraft parts manufacturing at its Australian headquarters, located in Fremantle, Western Australia — marking the first stage in establishing the site as an aerospace parts supplier. Quickstep said that while specific

Quickstep Holdings Ltd. (North Coogee, Western Australia) announced on Jan. 16 the commencement of aircraft parts manufacturing at its Australian headquarters, located in Fremantle, Western Australia — marking the first stage in establishing the site as an aerospace parts supplier.

Quickstep said that while specific details of the manufacturing contract are confidential, the company has 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 certified by Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) in the first half of the 2008 calendar year and will be installed and flying on aircraft shortly afterward.

The parts will be manufactured using AGATE-qualified carbon/epoxy materials from Toray Composites America Inc. (Tacoma, Wash.) and ROHACELL foam core from Evonik Röhm GmbH (Darmstadt, Germany).

Quickstep’s managing director, Nick Noble, says the move was a watershed for the company: “Our Fremantle headquarters are being re-engineered to become a full-scale aerospace manufacturing facility before the end of 2008, representing a major achievement for the company,” he says.

To prepare the site, Quickstep has used part of the capital raised through a $17 million (AUS) stock issue, completed in November 2007, to purchase manufacturing equipment. A new CATIA (Dassault Systémes, Woodland Hills, Calif.) computer-aided design (CAD) system, which allows direct data transfer to and from customers, has been integrated into Quickstep’s production engineering and inspection systems. In addition, a Leica laser tracker was delivered to the facility in February from Switzerland, providing Quickstep with the 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 SpA (Castello di Godego, Italy) 5-axis machining center, and a range of other, smaller pieces of plant equipment. The autoclaves will be used to complement the Quickstep Process, and will include two 10m by 3m (30-ft by 10-ft) diameter vessels used for manufacturing a combination of carbon composite tooling and production parts.

Quickstep has recently appointed three senior production staff members, all recruited from Airbus in the UK. Noble says that the appointments will provide significant additional depth to the company’s aerospace expertise, and provide invaluable manufacturing know-how as Quickstep pursues additional manufacturing contracts for its Australian facility.