Former hardware, now high-tech aersopace hub on schedule
DRIVE past the new $66 million TAE Aerospace facility at Bundamba, and you could be forgiven for forgetting that just a few short years ago, it was a hardware store.
The transformation of the former Master Hardware warehouse is almost complete, following a hectic 12 months of construction, which will allow TAE to conduct its fighter jet and tank repair and maintenance, as well as house parts for the Super Hornet, Abrams Tank and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
The new facility includes an enormous central repair area containing four 3.5m deep pits where the engines weighing up to 2700kg can be craned in for stripping down and reassembling.
By selecting a pre-existing building for the job, TAE estimates that it saved about nine months of construction time.
TAE CEO Andrew Sanderson said the construction phase was all but complete, with the fit-out not taking place alongside the effort to relocate equipment from Amberley RAAF Base to the new facility.
“The builder has been great and we are very happy with the progress,” Mr Sanderson said.
“It is now a matter of turning bricks and mortar into an operating facility. We are in the process of getting ready to move, but a lot of work will stay at Amberley for some time.”
With the shift from Amberley set to take several months, TAE is estimating a March official opening for Bundamba.
Mr Sanderson said TAE Aerospace would increase its Amberley workforce, which was 140 when construction started, to 200 after the relocation.
It is anticipated the first engines that will be worked on at Bundamba will come from the US Marine Corps.
The new facility’s maintenance area will run double shifts to cater for the workload.
TAE will maintain its engine test cell at Amberley RAAF base, upgrading it to cope with the Joint Strike Fighter power plant, which packs 43,000 pounds of thrust, weighs three times as much and is one and a half times the length of the Super Hornet engine.
That in itself is a $22 million project.