Australian composites company Quickstep is hoping to sign a co-operation and development agreement with a "leading Europe-based aircraft manufacturer", believed to be Airbus, by May.

The Perth, Western Australia-based company has developed a composites manufacturing process that uses fluid-based curing and is more cost-effective and faster than traditional autoclave production. The company is already supplying sample parts to the UK's Spirit AeroSystems (formerly BAE Systems Aerostructures), which provides components for Airbus.

"We are in advanced discussions with a leading European manufacturer regarding the establishment of a framework co-operation and development agreement intended to achieve certification for the Quickstep process - a forerunner to actual aerospace components manufacture," says managing director Nick Noble.

Quickstep is also establishing a new facility in Munich, Germany. Operated by a wholly owned subsidiary, the facility will initially have one Quickstep composites production machine, due to be installed in May and be "committed exclusively to the testing and product development for a select group of European customers", says Noble.

The first large-scale application of the Quickstep process to aerospace parts manufacture is targeted for mid-2008. Meanwhile, the company has established a technology advisory board, headed by Andrew Walker, former Airbus chief manufacturing engineer for the A380, to facilitate commercialisation of the process.

Source: Flight International