Belfast Telegraph

Business as usual, says new US owner of aircraft seat-maker

By Margaret Canning

US giant Rockwell Collins has said its $8.6bn (£7bn) purchase of aircraft cabin interiors firm B/E Aerospace will have "minimal impact" on its Co Down workforce.

The aviation systems company said the takeover, announced in October last year, is now complete.

Around 800 staff in Kilkeel are employed in the manufacture of aeroplane seats for B/E Aerospace.

But a Rockwell Collins spokesman said the change in ownership of B/E Aerospace would have little effect on the Northern Ireland workforce.

The B/E Aerospace operation has now been renamed Rockwell Collins.

The spokesman said: "Because there is little overlap between our two companies, we anticipate minimal employee impact.

"As a global company, we consistently evaluate our operations around the world to make sure we are operating as effectively and efficiently as possible."

The deal leaves Rockwell Collins with nearly 30,000 employees and annual revenues of around $8bn.

The spokesman added: "With the acquisition, Rockwell Collins expands its portfolio with a wide range of cabin interior products for commercial aircraft and business jets, including seating, food and beverage preparation and storage equipment, lighting and oxygen systems, and modular galley and lavatory systems.

"This advances the company's global growth strategy by expanding its previous focus on cockpit, cabin management, communication and connectivity solutions, and diversifies its product portfolio and customer mix."

Rockwell Collins is a long-established supplier of aviation electronics and communications to the UK's Ministry of Defence.

Stephen Kelly, chief executive of Manufacturing NI, said the confirmed takeover should be good news for Kilkeel.

"Given the background of the owners, I would hope they will see a big opportunity in Kilkeel and that these jobs could be enhanced," he said.

"It's massive news for Kilkeel as B/E Aerospace has been one of its biggest employers. Hopefully Rockwell Collins can bring in new customers and we can see the plant continuing to play a major role in the community and economy of the area."

The Kilkeel facility has been owned by B/E Aerospace since 1993. Last year the plant announced a contract to supply three seat classes - business premium, premium economy and economy - to American Airlines' A350 Airbus fleet.

Last year rival aeroplane seat-maker, Thompson Aero Seating in Portadown, was sold to the Aviation Industry Corporation of China.

Belfast Telegraph