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Bombardier helps UK to deliver £8bn of aircraft in first quarter

By John Mulgrew

The value of aircraft production to the UK has reached £8bn this year, new figures reveal.

Companies delivered 406 aircraft in the first four months of the year, just one fewer than the same period of 2016, according to figures from ADS Group.

It's understood that included three planes from Bombardier - Northern Ireland's biggest firm in the sector - which were part-made in Belfast.

And one of the three was a CS100 jet delivered to Swiss Air in April.

ADS chief executive Paul Everitt said: "Aerospace industry production continues to closely match the record figures achieved in 2016 and deliveries of completed aircraft are already worth £8bn to the UK economy this year.

"It is vital that to achieve further increases in production rates, we see investment in new technologies and processes to support a real boost in productivity, improving the ability of supply chains to meet high global demand.

"There are important choices to be made by the next government on developing industrial strategy, supporting innovation and creating a world-leading business environment that could help the UK aerospace industry play an even greater role in this global market."

Meanwhile, earlier this month the Belfast Telegraph revealed there are concerns over further job losses at Bombardier here amid a major plan to outsource IT. The Canadian aerospace giant announced this month that it had secured a six-year $700m deal with IBM.

The outsourcing contract is believed to be a cost-saving measure within the company's IT infrastructure globally. While up to 140 IT staff based in Belfast could be affected, union sources say they believe job losses could be mitigated through workers transferring to other roles or leaving the company voluntarily.

Bombardier employs around 4,500 workers across Northern Ireland. The majority are based in Belfast and, among other work, produce the wings and parts of the fuselage for its C Series passenger planes.

It comes after Bombardier slashed more than 1,000 jobs here over the past year.

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