Belfast Telegraph

Expansion at Denroy is grounded by delays to Bombardier's CSeries

Bombardier jet hold-up puts brakes on £3m investment

Exclusive by Yvette Shapiro

The delays that have dogged Bombardier's new CSeries jet have forced a Bangor company to put on hold a £3m investment that was set to create 32 jobs.

Denroy Plastics supplies components for the CSeries wings, which are partly made at Bombardier's Belfast plant. It was due to start work this year on a major expansion of its Bangor aerospace facility, but the project won't now begin until 2017 at the earliest.

Chairman John Rainey said Denroy remains "entirely committed" to the project, that was announced earlier this year during a visit to the Bangor factory by enterprise minister Jonathan Bell. "We need a bit more clarification of the CSeries schedule," said Mr Rainey. "We're ready to go with our plans which amount to a substantial expansion of the shop floor. All of our aerospace work will go into it, along with the research and development department.

“We’re absolutely certain that it will go ahead as soon as production on the CSeries increases.”

Speaking in June when the investment announcement was made, Jonathan Bell said the 32 new jobs would generate almost £600,000 for the local economy.

“Denroy’s plans to develop its aerospace production facility is a significant investment and marks a steep change in the company’s ambition to grow sales within the international aerospace sector,” said Mr Bell.

Denroy employs 230 people in its two Bangor factories, one producing Denman hairbrushes, the other manufacturing specialist lightweight plastic wing components for aircraft like the Airbus A320 and the Eurofighter Typhoon. It has had a long-running partnership with Bombardier and supplies parts for the company’s global business jets.

“We’re leading the way with materials that are much sought-after in the aerospace industry but difficult to process,” said John Rainey. “There are big opportunities globally. We can see a huge future for local companies in the aerospace sector, led by a big push in research and development.”

Mr Rainey said a major project — still under wraps — involving a consortium of local aerospace companies could result in a “colossal” investment and jobs boost for the sector.

Bombardier is pressing ahead with CSeries wing production at its Belfast facility. The company is currently taking part in the Dubai Air Show where it announced that Latvia’s airBaltic will be the first airline in the world to fly the CSeries commercially, in about a year’s time. Bombardier said it would deliver the planes to the Latvian flag carrier — which has 13 of the aircraft on firm order and retains options for seven more — in the second half of 2016.

And Bombardier has also confirmed the CSeries flight test programme is close to 100% complete, with only a few tests left. The company said it was “on track” to have the aircraft certified this year with Transport Canada.

“The success of this historic CSeries aircraft test programme is a testament to the hard work and dedication from the teams that designed, developed, built and tested the CSeries aircraft over the last few years,” said Fred Cromer, president, Bombardier Commercial Aircraft.

“We’re proud to be moving into the entry-in-service and production phase.” Bombardier has been struggling to bring the CSeries to the market.

It has 243 orders for the jet, short of the target of 300. The programme is now three years delayed and more than £1bn over budget. Last week, it received a $1bn bail-out from the Quebec regional government and is seeking a further $1bn from the new Canadian federal government.

Belfast Telegraph