Qantas is tapping the technology used by the most successful Supercars team of the past decade to keep its aircraft flying.
It’s using parts manufactured by Triple Eight Racing Engineering, which has won four of the past five Bathurst 1000s, as the race team exploits and expands its engineering expertise.
Triple Eight was created as a racing and engineering operation and the Qantas connection has come thanks to its former owner, Roland Dane, who created a high-tech engineering workshop before his recent retirement.
Mr Dane invested more than $2.5 million in the engineering operation, which is located on the same road as Triple Eight’s competition headquarters in the Brisbane industrial suburb of Banyo.
The Qantas connection is detailed to CarExpert by Jamie Whincup, the all-time leader in Supercars’ championship victories and now the CEO of Triple Eight.
“We’re making parts for their passenger jets. I can’t say specifically which ones,” Mr Whincup said.
“They are parts they need sourced locally with strict time restraints. A passenger jet parked-up for a day costs silly amounts of money. They need it back in service ASAP.
“So manufacturing locally is a great appeal. We’ve been able to service Qantas quite a few times.”
Mr Whincup said the move into aerospace manufacturing was an important pivot for Triple Eight, as its work on building the latest Gen3 Chevrolet Camaro to compete in Supercars is winding down.
“We’ve always been an engineering business that went racing. Of course, racing is a huge business… but the game has completely changed with Gen3 and so we’re looking outside racing for design and manufacturing opportunities,” he said.
“We’ve got other brands and names all over the place. Nothing as big or well-known as Qantas in the household names, but it’s a big focus of ours now to expand that.”
Mr Whincup said there are 17 people working at the engineering operation, called #73 because of its street number. It is equipped with a wide range of high-tech manufacturing machines, from three-axis mills to precision measuring tools.
Triple Eight is not just a manufacturing company, as it’s also capable of design and certification to aerospace standards.
“We want to position ourselves so we’re the company that can come to the party when someone needs us,” Mr Whincup said.
“We also have five designated engineers in the race centre that service manufacturing.
“They have crazy-stringent procedures and processes. We have to do a test model first.
“It’s a big process. It’s something we’re really proud of.”
He’s proud of the Qantas connection and said it will continue to grow.
“It’s been a fantastic fit for both parties. We’ve been doing work for just over 12 months,” he said.
“They are big bits. I think the last part we did for Qantas was almost a metre long.
“It was the strengthening braces inside the cargo doors. It’s a metre-long, fully-machined, billet alloy component.
“We’re here for Qantas, or anyone in aerospace. If a company needs something on time and on-spec then Triple Eight can do it.
“The opportunities are endless so we’re looking forward to seeing where we can go.”