Belfast Telegraph

High flying aerospace companies on the rise

Four Ulster firms Bombardier, Thales, B/E Aerospace and Magellan make top 100 list of suppliers

by clare weir

Northern Ireland is home to four of the top 100 aerospace and defence suppliers in the world, according to a new report.

Supply chain companies here also make products for some of the biggest names on the list.

The Top 100 Aerospace Company poll from business advisory firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) shows that measured by annual sales, Bombardier ranks 16th, followed by Thales at number 18, with B/E Aerospace and Magellan Aerospace ranked 44th and 80th, respectively.

A number of Northern Ireland companies also supply parts for Boeing, which retained its place as the largest overall business.

Revenue growth of 35% at Boeing Commercial Airplanes has seen the company double its lead over runner-up EADS, the aircraft, space systems and helicopter builder.

Leslie Orr, manager of ADS, the trade body for the aerospace, defence, security and space sectors in Northern Ireland, said it can continue to grow the sector here.

"Northern Ireland is one of the top performing UK regions for aerospace and it is great to have these companies here," he said.

"As well as a hundred years of heritage in the sector, Northern Ireland has great skills, great engineering expertise, a low cost base and a good education system, which is why these big companies are basing themselves here and acquiring home-grown firms.

"Having four companies in this global list will hopefully show what an attractive region this is for aerospace."

Among the companies making parts for Boeing are Bombardier itself, Magherafelt firm Moyola Precision Engineering, Maydown Precision Engineering in Eglinton and JW Kane Precision Engineering in Portadown.

All three companies also make parts for Airbus, which is part of runner-up EADS, as does Bangor firm Denroy.

Denroy also makes parts for BAE Systems, which was 15th on the list, Spirit, which was 21st and GKN, which came 40th.

US firm Spirit AeroSystems has signed a memorandum of understanding to work alongside Northern Ireland multiplier Sigma Aeronautics, which leads a collaborative network of companies.

And last year, John Huddleston Engineering of Greyabbey was bought over by Canadian firm Magellan, which came 80th.

This is the 16th year that experts from PwC UK have compiled the data, analysing trends and ranking growth and profit data across the aerospace sector.

It is also the first year that Chinese and Russian companies have joined the rankings, with AVIC of China being named as the world's 37th largest aerospace firm, measured by revenues.

Year on year, commercial aircraft builders grew by around 22% including a return to growth for the business and corporate aircraft manufacturers.

Defence aircraft companies also recovered from previously weak sales, while aircraft engine manufacturers enjoyed a 10% growth in revenues.

The analysis says that profits across the top 100 companies recovered in 2012 reflecting a combination of cost controls brought in during the recession.

Four firms in top flight of global aeronautical sector


Employing almost 5,000, Bombardier Aerospace in Belfast is part of the world's third-largest civil aircraft manufacturer, and produces major structures for all of Bombardier's aircraft families, as well structures and engine nacelles for other manufacturers.

A new 600,000 sq ft factory makes the wings of the new CSeries commercial aircraft, which successfully took to the air for the first time last week and is being snapped up by major carriers including Lufthansa and Korean Air.

Some 850 employees are currently working on the CSeries wings using Bombardier Belfast's unique resin transfer infusion technology.


Thales in east Belfast is the leader for short-range weapons systems in the UK and, within the Thales group, is the centre of excellence for missile design, development and manufacturing.

Last year saw the announcement of a partnership with Aerojet to form European Space Propulsion (ESP Thruster) in Northern Ireland.

ESP will work with local government and academia to enable research and development activities in the area of advanced space propulsion.

Thales employs more than 580 people.

B/E Aerospace

B/E Aerospace has a fabrication facility in Kilkeel making internal seats and other furnishings for a large range of passenger aircraft for some of the best-known airlines across the globe.

The company has its largest UK manufacturing facility in Northern Ireland but it also has other operations in England.

Last year, employment in the UK business, which includes Kilkeel climbed by over 100 while turnover was up £30m and pre-tax profits up £17m. The firm employs around 1,000 people in total.

Magellan Aerospace

Canadian aerospace giant Magellan bought over Greyabbey engineering company John Huddleston Engineering just over a year ago.

Of its £40m ($25m) annual turnover, Magellan accounts for around £5.7m ($3.6m) worth of sales each year, according to a stock exchange filing from the Canadian company.

JHE precision engineers components for the aerospace and defence industries and has been integrated and managed through Magellan's UK operations, which are headquartered in Dorset.

Other operations are in Wrexham in Wales and Chalfont St Peter in Buckinghamshire.

Magellan Aerospace is one of the world's most integrated aerospace industry suppliers.

Belfast Telegraph