Belfast Telegraph

Aerospace, defence sectors give £1bn boost to economy

By Clare Weir

The aerospace, defence and security industries contribute £1bn to the Northern Ireland economy every year and employs around 7,500 people, according to the first ever study of the sectors carried out here.

The document, produced by |the Aerospace/Defence/Security (ADS) trade body, also revealed that Northern Ireland contributed 7.1% of the total UK aerospace output last year.

Total sales amounted to £960m last year, with another £640m of orders in the pipeline so far.

Over 90% of those total |sales came from exports, with £664m worth being sent outside the UK.

The EU received 20% of orders (£173m), the US 12.8% (£110m) and the rest of the world 44.2% (£380m), meaning that exports from aerospace, defence and security represented 12.85% of all Northern Ireland manufacturing exports in 2010.

Civil aerospace accounted for 85% of sales (£774m), defence 14% (£128m) and security at only 1% (£11m).

The report found that despite security being a growing sector, response from companies in the industry was very low and the reported revenues of £11m are expected to be much higher in reality.

Firms from the three sectors were said to have pumped £34m into research and development, representing 10.5% of all Northern Ireland’s business R&D spending.

It said 90% of people employed in the industries are working in aerospace, 9.5% in defence and 0.5% in security.

Of the total workforce, 4% are apprentices and each employee contributes £127,246 per year in revenue output.

The good news is set to continue with Boeing and Airbus predicting a record year for large commercial jet production.

Meanwhile, a new £6m |composites and engineering research centre funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, Bombardier and Invest NI and co-owned and run by Queen’s University and University of Ulster is due to open later this year.

David Beatty, chairman of ADS Northern Ireland, said that despite pending defence cuts, the civil aerospace sector is set to continue to grow.

Belfast-based firm Thales recently announced a contract for the development of lightweight multi-role missiles with the Ministry of Defence.


  • BE Aerospace in Kilkeel produces over a quarter of the global demand for aircraft seats.
  • Bombardier bought over the historic Shorts plant and is making wings for the CSeries aircraft at a new £520m facility.
  • Datum Design in Ballynahinch makes and supplies tools for the aircraft and automotive industries.
  • Survitec Group makes safety and survival equipment for the defence, aerospace, marine and leisure markets.
  • Thales is the largest company in the defence sector here.

Belfast Telegraph