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Flying visit shows local aerospace industry strength

By Symon Ross

A Flying display this weekend by the world’s largest commercial airliner will highlight the strength of the local aviation industry, according to the First and Deputy First Minister.

THE 525-seat Airbus A380 is scheduled to perform at the Northern Ireland International Airshow at Portrush, and a fly-over at The George Best Belfast City Airport before departing for other flights in England and Wales.

Tom Williams, Airbus executive vice-president, said: “The Northern Irish aerospace industry supports approximately 40 companies, including Base Group, Maydown Precision, Huddleston Engineering and Moyola Precision — all suppliers for Airbus aircraft.

“We hope they are all proud of what they’ve helped build. The A380 is the flagship of the 21st century and sets new standards in eco-efficient aviation.”

First Minister Peter Robinson said the Airbus A380 stands as an example to the world of what the local aviation industry can achieve.

“The aircraft is a huge technological success that is set to dominate air travel for years to come,” he said.

Deputy first minister Martin McGuinness said the visit from Airbus was a tribute to the skills of those who worked to make the aircraft a success, noting that the aviation industry is a “major contributor to the local economy”.

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster added: “Our local aerospace sector is one of the largest and most successful business clusters here, with our design and engineering companies being important partners in the design, development and manufacture of innovative new aircraft, such as the Airbus 380.

“The fly-overs will showcase the excellence of our companies.”

So far 18 A380s have been delivered to three airlines — Emirates, Qantas and Singapore Airlines. The in-service fleet has flown more than 6,450 commercial flights carrying more than 2.5 million passengers.

The visiting aircraft, MSN1, is an Airbus flight test plane. It will be flown by a five-man crew, including Harry Nelson, a former RAF pilot and a Royal Aeronautical Society Fellow.

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