Boeing is the world's largest aerospace company and leading manufacturer of commercial airplanes, and defence, space and security systems. The company supplies aircraft and information platform systems to Australia’s airlines and the Australian Department of Defence.
We have jointly invested over $120 million across a wide range of projects, including aircraft repainting methods, sustainable aviation fuels, aircraft assembly processes, fire retardants and aircraft maintenance management software.
Our relationship has played a key role in the development of Boeing's operations in Australia, most notably the decision to establish research and development (R&D) laboratories in Brisbane and Melbourne. These precincts house more than 120 Australian scientists engaged on advanced aerospace technologies.
CSIRO in space
Our current five year, $35 million research agreement is the largest number of projects we've ever had underway at the one time with Boeing over our 30 year partnership.
The focus is on space technologies. We'll help Boeing research better ways to track objects in space, like the tens of thousands of bits of space debris already in orbit.
We'll also develop lightweight radiation shielding materials for spaceflight, plus work on ways to manufacture things like satellite components in space stations.
These projects involve teams throughout Boeing, including its space, R&D and Boeing HorizonX teams. Boeing HorizonX is a pathfinder organisation that accelerates innovation and explores what's possible outside of Boeing's traditional market offerings.
In 2018, CSIRO's investment fund and Boeing HorizonX Ventures, the company's venture capital fund, invested in Australian nanosatellite communications start-up Myriota.
Our partnership with Boeing has delivered a range of innovative technological breakthroughs. Here are some examples.
Topcoat reactivation technology
CSIRO and Boeing developed a simple and effective 'spray on and leave on' re-coating technology that has been applied to over 1000 of Boeing's new commercial aircraft, including recent deliveries to both Qantas and Virgin Australia. It allows a plane's topcoat to be repainted without the need for potentially damaging sanding, saving Boeing millions of dollars in maintenance costs and countless hours of manual labour.
Airspace and airport congestion simulation tools
Total Airspace and Airport Modelling (TAAM) simulation software was first developed within CSIRO and spun-off into The Preston Group; later acquired by Boeing. TAAM is in operation across the globe, including AirServices Australia, and Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane airports; reducing airspace congestion, airport disruption and conflict avoidance and ensuring safer Australian skies.
Success and growth
Initially engaging in a series of contract research projects in the late 80s, our partnership has evolved into a strategic relationship model for R&D collaboration. Boeing describes this as its gold standard and adheres to this model in other international affiliations.
Boeing has named us a Supplier of the Year three times. In 2010 we won the academic category, while the Boeing-CSIRO topcoat reaction team was awarded the CSIRO Medal for Research Achievement.
Recent work has focused on new manufacturing and worker safety processes, including technology to keep Boeing's employees safer and meet strict environmental regulations. These include new hydraulic fluid for planes, and replacing a commonly-used corrosion inhibitor used by the aviation industry with a safer alternative that provides better performance.