South Africa's aerospace industry is now investing in a propulsion sector, with several role players actively engaged in various aspects of it. One of these is Cape Town-based Cape Aerospace Technologies (CAT), which works in conjunction with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and various universities. CAT is displaying its micro gas turbine engines under the auspices of the Department of Trade and Industry in Hanger 1, Stand E6.
According to chief executive David Krige, the company designs, manufactures and tests high-performance gas turbines for use in high-speed target drones, UAVs, experimental aircraft, full-size gliders and model aircraft.
"Gas turbines represent a specialised, extremely fine tolerance niche in the science of manufacturing, particularly at this scale," he explained. "CAT owes its success to a meticulous in-house design-to-manufacture process, including engine and subsystem assembly and testing."
The turbines (pictured), ranging from the CAT 120 to the CAT 400 Newton, are compactly designed to feature an excellent thrust-to-weight ratio and low specific fuel consumption. Their operating altitude is 8,000m. Krige said the turbines operate on diesel, kerosene or Jet A1 fuel, and include an electronic control unit, a ground support unit and ancillaries required for engine operation during flight.
In addition, CAT's turbines feature a fuel-atomising direct kerostart system, which also enables a relighting capability for high-altitude starts.
The company prides itself on getting the first new gas turbine engine running in South Africa since the late 1980s.