£3bn Bombardier jets contract a big deal for Belfast
Thirty orders for an iconic new jet from Bombardier have been firmed up by a US company, bringing good news for the Canadian company's east Belfast workers.
Flexjet's latest orders for the Learjet 85 business jet are yet another boost for the unique patented processes conceived in the Belfast plant, which will enable the aircraft to take flight.
Bombardier's Belfast facility is responsible for the design and manufacture of the jet's wing skins and spars – or component parts.
A team of about 60 workers – from the factory floor to the design engineers – are working on the wing components for the Learjet 85, the first flight of which will take off before the end of this year.
Flexjet has now made a total of 60 orders for the Learjet 85 from Bombardier.
Flexjet is a newly created company owned by Directional Aviation Capital and is an exclusive operator of Bombardier business aircraft.
Steve Ridolfi, president of Bombardier Business Aircraft, said he viewed the purchase as great endorsement.
"We're very proud to see Flexjet placing their trust in our new Learjet 85 aircraft.
"This endorsement is a tremendous vote of confidence as we move towards the first flight of the Learjet 85 jet before the end of the year.
"It's definitely a great way to celebrate Learjet's 50th anniversary," he added.
If every prospective sale goes through, the total value of the order will be approximately £3bn based on 2013 list prices.
The confirmation of the orders follows Prime Minister David Cameron's recent endorsement of Northern Ireland as an investment hub during his visit to the province.
His tour earlier this month took in a brand new wing of the east Belfast premises when the aerospace company took the opportunity to announce a further 250 new jobs over the next 12 months.
Just a day before, Secretary of State Theresa Villiers said the Government had approved a business case for a £120m research and development project at the Canadian-based company, creating 230 new jobs.
The company has over recent years invested around £520m in Belfast facilities for the making of the C-Series craft.
Ralph Acs, general manager of Learjet, which this year celebrates its 50th anniversary, welcomed the progress of the aircraft's latest generation as "milestones" of its "enduring legacy and popularity".
Number of new jobs being created in the next year at Bombardier