Belfast Telegraph

Bombardier's C Series takes to skies over Farnborough in maiden flight for Swiss Air

By Margaret Canning and PA

Aerospace giant Bombardier's C Series, complete with its Belfast-made wings, takes off on its first commercial flight today.

The Canadian manufacturer closes its Farnborough Airshow experience with the maiden flight for its first C Series customer, Swiss Air.

Around 17 Northern Ireland companies - as well as Bombardier, which has a workforce of around 5,000 in Belfast - have been taking part in the industry showcase.

It was the location yesterday for a celebration of the contribution of small aerospace firms from the province to the supply chains of big manufacturers.

Bradfor Ltd in Rostrevor, IPC Mouldings in Carrickfergus and RTA Ireland in Kilkeel received silver awards for taking part in a business excellence programme for aerospace and defence firms run by trade body ADS.

Bradfor Ltd and IPC Mouldings both achieved their awards through a supply chain programme at aeroplane seat manufacturer B/E Aerospace in Kilkeel.

Economy Minister Simon Hamilton said the four companies were setting standards of excellence in the aerospace sector.

The minister added: "Invest Northern Ireland, B/E Aerospace and Bombardier Belfast all play a key role in supporting local companies participating in this programme and Northern Ireland's Partnering for Growth Strategy continues to be the focus of those working in the industry.

"Invest NI remains committed to ensuring that the local aerospace sector has a supply chain that can grow its capabilities in the high-technology, high-value areas where our industry needs to compete."

IPC managing director Joanne Liddle said: "This recognition is excellent news, as it underlines our dedication to best practice and high quality. As a company, we aim for the very best in order to provide an excellent service for our customers."

Doran Engineering in Newcastle, Belfast Aircraft Stress Engineers Ltd (Base) and Boyce Precision Engineering in Magheralin all received bronze awards.

And the silver certifications of Denroy Plastics in Bangor and JW Kane Precision Engineering in Craigavon were renewed.

The Farnborough Air Show opens to the public this weekend before its close.

Bombardier did not reveal any fresh orders for its C Series during the industry part of the event, though senior executive Fred Cromer told Reuters he expected more orders to come in the second half of the year.

Meanwhile, Airbus beat rival Boeing in the battle to record the most orders announced at Farnborough.

Deals worth $35bn (£26.2m) for 279 aircraft were secured by Airbus at the Hampshire event.

They comprise firm orders for 197 aircraft worth $26.3bn (£19.7bn) and commitments for 82 aircraft valued at $8.7bn (£6.5bn).

John Leahy, chief operating officer at Airbus, whose planes' wings are made in the UK, said: "Our orders this week at Farnborough confirm a buoyant industry in which we have once again surpassed our competitor.

"In addition, airlines upsizing to the A321neo show that this aircraft is the undisputed middle-of-the-market champion."

Virgin Atlantic president Sir Richard Branson visited the air show to announced a $4.4bn (£3.3bn) order for 12 Airbus A350-1000 aircraft.

US plane-maker Boeing, which is celebrating its centenary on Friday, announced orders and commitments for 182 commercial aircraft, valued at $26.8bn (£20.1bn) at list prices.

Its customers included the world's largest tourism group, Tui, which finalised an order for 10 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft and one 787-9 Dreamliner. The deal was valued at $1.4bn US dollars (£1.1bn).

Tui Group, which owns the Thomson and First Choice brands, now has three unfilled orders for 787-9s and 70 for the 737 MAX. The Government confirmed orders for Boeing defence equipment, including nine P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft and 50 Apache AH-64E.

Belfast Telegraph