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TAE Aerospace expands into Victoria: Q&A with Darren Hutchinson

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Promoted by TAE Aerospace.


At Land Forces 2018, TAE Aerospace announced it will take over the operations of Kidde Aerospace and Defence Australia (KADA) at the end of September. TAE Aerospace Chief Strategy Officer, Darren Hutchinson talks about the acquisition and how it will extend the company’s services to Land operators.

Why is an aerospace company working with land-based Defence operators?

Since we became privately-owned in 2015 we can pursue the strategy we define for ourselves. Part of our growth strategy is to look for ‘inter-operability’ between platforms and build on the synergies between the engine types we service.

We were able to successfully bridge from the engines of the Hornet and Super Hornet to the AGT1500, which is essentially a jet engine on a tank, and there are marine applications for that engine type as well.

We won’t ever be biggest company in the global aerospace market, but we have found ways to compete and punch above our weight by being smart in our approach, as Australian companies often do. In some cases, we have spotted an opportunity that is a good fit for us and been the first to jump on board.


Tell us a bit about Kidde Aerospace and Defence Australia (KADA).

KADA’s core business is fire protection systems for military and commercial vehicles and aircraft. There are other smaller product lines such as aviation and maritime life rafts, among others.

They are owned by United Technologies Aerospace Systems (UTAS), which is a United Technologies (UTC) company. KADA has operated in Australia for more than 30 years supporting commercial and defence customers here, as well as New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands.

KADA is one of the lead Australian companies supporting Thales on the Hawkei with automatic fire and explosion suppression systems (AFES), which are a key safety feature on that vehicle.

They are well known for their crew AFES, which is installed on main battle tanks and armoured personnel carriers around the world.


What is the market in Australia for these products?

We know it is a growing market. Around the world the number of asymmetric engagements is increasing and there is more need than ever for advanced safety features to protect those involved.

It has been documented that recent conflicts have shone a light on the need for additional fire suppression to protect vulnerable parts of vehicles such as fuel tanks and engine compartments. Australia’s Defence Forces, along with those around the world, are looking for this increased level of protection.

Aside from the Defence market, the acquisition lets us expand our offer to some of our other existing customers, like Qantas.


Why is this company and its products a good fit for TAE Aerospace?

It is a good fit for us for a number of reasons. One is that it capitalises on our existing MRO expertise as we are currently the largest MRO for gas turbine engines in the Asia-Pacific region.

Another is our experience in building relationships with OEMs, and we’ve proven that with exclusive license arrangements for turbo-prop engine and component maintenance and other work.

We are also experienced in providing through-life-support services to Defence, and knowing how to provide that kind of support is essential to carry out this work effectively.

The KADA products are also about safety, which fits with our business. Safety is paramount in our industry and something that we’ve built our reputation on.

Lastly, but very importantly, it allows us to grow our relationship with new and existing customers.

There is KADA equipment on the Qantas Dreamliner, the Joint Strike Fighter, the Hornet, and of course on the M1A1 Abrams so it provides a good opportunity to expand our relationship with the Australian Army.


What is your existing relationship with Army?

We have a great relationship with Army, which started when we first won some minor repair work on the AGT1500. Now the work and the relationship has grown to encompass total logistics support for the engine.

We have worked with Army since 2014 to deliver engine and component MRO&U, design engineering work, configuration and reliability management, condition monitoring services, and an OEM correlated test cell facility designed and built by our engineers.

We expect that the KADA product line will open up other land-based opportunities as well.


Will the company continue to operate from Victoria?

The operations will remain in Victoria, which expands our geographical footprint and means we now have operations in four states, plus the US.

Our staff numbers will grow to just over 250 with the KADA acquisition, and as we move across to the new building we expect them to grow further, starting with the F135 engine work that is expected next year. It is an exciting time to be involved with TAE Aerospace.


TAE Aerospace expands into Victoria: Q&A with Darren Hutchinson
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