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Invest NI urge supply chain firms to back Bombardier

By John Mulgrew

Published 07/04/2016

A Bombardier worker in its Belfast factory
A Bombardier worker in its Belfast factory
Shorts Bombardier in the Belfast Harbour Estate
Challenger and C Series aircraft

Invest NI is trying to pull together some of Northern Ireland's top aerospace supply chain firms in order to win key work for Bombardier's Belfast operations from other parts of the world.

It's understood the economic development agency is attempting to bring together a host of firms, some of which already produce parts for the Canadian-owned aerospace giant, in order to win other major work.

Bombardier's Belfast workforce suffered a setback in February this year when 1,000 job losses were announced.

But it's already doing more work on its new flagship CSeries jets than originally envisaged. It produces the wings for the passenger planes, but it has also taken work off Bombardier's Chinese partners, producing the middle section of the fuselages.

One source said Invest NI is trying to grow its "collaboration networks", and is attempting to cluster firms here together to do more work for Bombardier - Northern Ireland's largest manufacturer.

It's understood to be working with Bombardier's supply chain on expanding their roles.

That could mean firms here producing yet more major parts and sections for the aerospace giant's jets, such as the CSeries.

A spokeswoman for Invest NI said: "Northern Ireland Partnering for Growth is the regional strategy for aerospace, defence, security and space.

"This includes the Supply Chain Excellence initiative which aims to build long-term supply chain partnerships to help companies win larger and more comprehensive work packages.

"Significant progress has been made towards this objective, with strong support from Bombardier and B/E Aerospace locally, through the UK's Supply Chain 21 (SC21) development programme.

"Invest NI is fully supportive of this and is actively involved in working with the industry, where it can, to help this become a reality."

And Bombardier said it is "committed to developing our local Northern Ireland supply chain" and playing a leading role in the UK's Supply Chain 21 (SC21) development programme".

"We recognise the importance of having a local competitive supply base with whom we, and other companies, can do business.

"In 2015, we awarded work worth around £85m to local Northern Ireland suppliers, and £240m in total across the UK and Ireland," the company said.

"We continue to work closely with Invest NI on exploring opportunities to increase our competitiveness and that of our supply chain."

Bombardier's Belfast workers are already building the wings of the CSeries jets.

But last year it was revealed the workforce here has already produced between 15 and 20 fuselage mid-sections for the CSeries planes.

Bombardier currently employs 5,300 staff here, the majority of whom are full-time, permanent employees.

5,300

Number of Bombardier's Belfast staff, most of whom are full-time

Belfast Telegraph

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