Aerospace businesses join forces in bold new venture
Aerospace companies in Northern Ireland are joining forces as Causeway Aero to offer a one-stop shop to big aircraft manufacturers.
And Denroy Plastics - one of the companies forming part of Causeway Aero - said the first deals for the new entity would be announced in coming months.
Economy Minister Simon Hamilton announced the new plan at Farnborough Air Show, which continues until Sunday.
Causeway Aero will target major players like Airbus and Boeing, and bring together the separate expertise of each firm within the entity. It also hopes to gain work in aircraft interiors and for helicopter manufacturers.
Bangor firm Denroy would be able to offer its plastic components experience alongside the precision engineering prowess of companies like Moyola Precision Engineering in Magherafelt and Dontaur in Ballymena, and the design abilities of BASE in Belfast, in a single package.
Kevin McNamee, finance director at Denroy, cautioned that Causeway Aero does not represent a merger of Moyola Engineering, Denroy Plastics, BASE, Dontaur Precision Engineering and Hutchinson Aerotech.
Nor will Causeway Aero be capable of building its own planes, he added.
"It will mean that companies will have one point of contact and one company with which to contract, instead of five."
Stephen Cowan, vice-president of supply chain at Bombardier Belfast - which buys parts from some of the companies involved - said: "It is vital that we have suppliers that can compete and win business in this high-technology, highly competitive and constantly changing international industry. We therefore support the aims of this new venture to improve the capabilities and competitiveness of the local supply chain."
Simon Hamilton said: "Northern Ireland is a global leader in aerospace technology with every major commercial aircraft programme depending on structures, components and expert services from our local supply base. Causeway Aero brings together the combined skills, capabilities and experience of a number of our local Aerospace businesses to pursue larger and more complex work packages in the global aerospace industry.
"This exciting new venture aligns with the Northern Ireland Aerospace Partnering for Growth Strategy, where local companies committed to doubling the size of the aerospace sector to £2bn sales annually and increasing employment from 8,000 to 12,000 by 2024."
Causeway Aero was offered over £95,000 under the National Aerospace Technology Exploitation Programme (NATEP), through Invest Northern Ireland's grant for research and development (Ra&D).
Secretary of State Theresa Villiers also visited Farnborough yesterday, where she pledged government support for Northern Ireland's aerospace industry. And she said growth in civil aviation around the world would bring opportunities for the province. Already, the province has 60 firms which produce structures, components and services for most of the world's biggest aircraft programmes.
The Secretary of State said: "Northern Ireland firms are well placed to make the most of the transformation under way in the international aerospace market. The UK Government, together with Invest NI, is committed to supporting them however we can.
"Direct UK Government launch funding is available - and has already supported Bombardier's excellent C Series aircraft which makes its maiden commercial flight this Friday."