Belfast Telegraph

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3. Bombardier Aerospace

Vice-President and General Manager: Michael Ryan

Employment: 4,990

Turnover: £492.8m (annualised)

Pre-tax profit: £47.8m (annualised)

Bombardier Aerospace is an integral part of the world’s third largest civil aircraft manufacturer, and produces major structures for all of Bombardier’s aircraft families, as well structures and engine nacelles for other international manufacturers.

Despite on-going global recessionary pressures last year, the Belfast operation benefited from two record-breaking business aircraft orders from NetJets and VistaJet, as demand for large business jets remained strong. And the operation continued to invest significantly in new aircraft programmes, not least its role in Bombardier’s new CSeries commercial aircraft, for which Belfast is producing the advanced composite wings.

The company’s new 600,000sq ft factory, part of the £520 million investment in the development of the wings, was completed on schedule towards the end of the year, and deliveries of the wings are now well under way. Some 850 people are currently working on the wings, which are the largest and most complex composite structures manufactured and assembled in the UK using Bombardier Belfast’s unique resin transfer infusion technology. First flight of the CSeries aircraft – targeted at the 100 to 149-seat market – is due to take place by end of June mid-year 2013.

Other key milestones for the Belfast operation during the year included the despatch of the first sets of composite wing skins and spars for the new Learjet 85 business jet, and the deliveries of the first fuselages for the Learjet 70 and 75 aircraft.

Bombardier is expanding the after-market side of its business. Demand continued to grow during the year, and the company began to progressively move its repair business, along with its engine nacelle manufacturing operations, into the new factory it acquired in Newtownabbey. The new facility also accommodates Bombardier’s apprentice school, which has been running for more than 50 years and which currently has 120 apprentices going through a three-year apprenticeship. A further 40 apprentices are being recruited to start in September.

In addition, Bombardier now has over 100 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Ambassadors – from apprentices to senior management – who actively promote STEM subjects to young people, as part of the company’s efforts to improve Northern Ireland’s engineering skills base.

During the year, the Belfast operation became involved in several significant research projects to further develop its capabilities and, as part of its investment with the two local universities in the new Northern Ireland Advanced Composites and Engineering Centre (NIACE), around 50 of the company’s engineers are now based in the premises. In addition, Bombardier had significant input to the joint UK Government and industry Aerospace Growth Partnership, which aims to grow the UK aerospace industry by implementing long-term strategies to advance product and manufacturing technologies, and ensuring the industry has the right skills in place.


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