Belfast Telegraph

Friday 28 November 2014

Ulster firms on the wing of £70m jet bonanza

A Eurofighter Typhoon performs its demonstration flight on the first day of the Paris air show
A Eurofighter Typhoon performs its demonstration flight on the first day of the Paris air show

Northern Ireland’s aerospace industry has landed a £70m windfall.

Canadian-owned Bombardier has awarded three local firms contracts, and two US companies are setting up facilities in Belfast to accommodate the multi-million pound order.

The lucrative contracts relate to the composite wings for the CSeries aircraft and components for the Learjet 85 aircraft.

It also emerged at the Paris Air Show yesterday that Bombardier has secured an order for an additional 10 CS100 aircraft with a major network carrier in a deal worth $616m (£380m).

The secret buyer also has an option for six extra planes which, if commissioned, would take the deal to $1.01bn (£624m).

That's good news for Northern Ireland as the wings of the aircraft are made at the company's Belfast plant.

More than 60 local companies have now been involved in the development and test phase of the wing programmes or in the building of the company's new state-of-the-art wing manufacturing and assembly facility currently under construction in Belfast.

“Our ongoing investment in these aircraft wing programmes and in the construction of our new wing production facility is not only developing our key capabilities and skills for the future, but is also providing valuable spin-offs and benefits to the wider Northern Ireland economy,” said Michael Ryan, vice-president and general manager of Bombardier Aerospace, Belfast.

“These latest contracts are in addition to work we have already awarded to more than 60 local companies over the past three years.”

The contracts have been awarded to Denroy Plastics based in Bangor, Co Down, Williams Industrial Services of Mallusk, Newtownabbey, and Kemfast PASS of Belfast.

Kemfast has revealed that on the back of the contract it is building a storage facility near Bombardier's new wing manufacturing and assembly factory and is recruiting staff for its operations.

Meanwhile, US company New Breed Logistics has established a base in Belfast as a result of being selected for work on the CSeries aircraft wing programme.

Nova-Tech Engineering is also setting up in Belfast as a result of being awarded the two contracts.

Nova-Tech has been recruiting for Belfast and will be employing local firms to make some of the equipment required to support the wing production lines.

Contract winner aims to double workforce

By Clare Weir

A Co Antrim company — one of five to have won a contract to supply aerospace giant Bombardier — is aiming to double in size in the next five years, which would create hundreds of jobs for the local economy.

Mallusk-based Williams Industrial Services, which employs 200 people, will supply two giant ovens that will help prepare the composite materials for the wings of Learjet 85 and CSeries aircraft wings.

The machines were specially designed for Bombardier and Williams is one of just a handful of firms capable of building and supplying such equipment.

The Mallusk company’s John Toner is hosting a trade stand at the Paris Air Show this week and told the Belfast Telegraph that he is expecting orders to flood in.

“We've worked in water and renewable energy in the past but aerospace is a whole new market for us and we are one of only two or three manufacturers in the world with these capabilities,” he said.

So far over 60 Northern Ireland firms have been involved in the development and test phases of the next CSeries aircraft, a prototype of which is on display at the airshow.

More than 100 orders for the plane, the wings of which are being built in Belfast, have been placed and it is expected 800 staff will be employed through the project by 2016.

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