Editor's Viewpoint: Sky's the limit at Bombardier
Barely a stone's throw from the scenes of disgraceful rioting in Belfast this week, a success story is taking off.
Canadian aeroplane manufacturer Bombardier's plant in the city is set to share in the success of the latest airliner developed by the company. With orders worth £15bn already placed, and many potential more in the pipeline, the new aircraft could mark a turning point in the fortunes of the local plant which makes parts for it.
This is indeed good news in a bleak economic climate and for the aviation industry locally. Just two years ago Bombardier paid off 1,000 workers, including sub-contractors, in what is traditionally a well-paid industry. Now Bombardier and its suppliers in Northern Ireland who make components for its aircraft can look to the future with much greater optimism and the company is to be congratulated for retaining its presence here even in the darkest days.
Of course, translating interest into firm orders can be a tricky business, but a prolonged slump in the aviation industry means that many airlines are due to replace their planes in the near future. It is estimated that some 6,000 new aircraft will be needed over the next 20 years and Bombardier are confident that their C-class series will be just the type that airlines will want to invest in.
Northern Ireland has a long and distinguished history in aviation, and Bombardier - formerly Shorts - has played a major role in its development over the years. Workers here have proved they have the ability to produce high quality products, which is vital in such a safety conscious industry. Now they are being given the opportunity to demonstrate that to a bigger global marketplace if projected sales to countries like China materialise.
It is that sort of exposure which will help to make Northern Ireland an investment destination for companies far removed from aviation. If they see that we have a skilled, enthusiastic and well-educated workforce - allied to financial incentives such as the lowering of corporation tax - then the sky really could be the limit.