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Bombardier secures £15m research grant for Belfast site


The Airbus A220 on display at the Farnborough Airshow

The Airbus A220 on display at the Farnborough Airshow

AFP/Getty Images

The Airbus A220 on display at the Farnborough Airshow

The UK government has announced a £15m investment into three new research projects at Bombardier in Belfast.

The projects, which are aimed at improving the environmental performance of future aircraft, were part of £343m worth of funding initiatives announced at the Farnborough Airshow in Hampshire this week.

The bulk of the investment, some £255m, will be supported by the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) and UK Research & Innovation (UKRI), towards 18 new research and technology projects.

They include three in Belfast, exploring more efficient manufacturing processes, new technology for engine covers (nacelles) and the application of composite material to large aerospace structures, such as wings and fuselage.

Bombardier has said the Government support is worth just under £15m over approximately six years. Around 100 employees at the Belfast plant will be directly involved in the projects.

The company said the investment would increase future productivity and help improve its competitiveness. A spokeswoman said: "They also focus on improving manufacturing efficiency and sustainability through the development of high-value manufacturing processes required to deliver new, innovative product designs to meet and exceed customers' needs and expectations."

Meanwhile, Airbus boss Tom Enders has said the aerospace giant is "now activating contingency plans" in the wake of the latest "unravelling" of the Chequers Brexit plan.

Speaking yesterday at the Farnborough Airshow, the chief executive said the latest battles endured by Theresa May's government provided "all the more reason" for the European aerospace manufacturer to implement such measures.

Airbus employs 15,000 people across 15 UK sites, however it now owns 50.01% of the newly rebranded A220 aircraft series. Bombardier's Belfast plant remains the sole production line for the jet's wings.

Mr Enders said his primary concerns over the UK's withdrawal from the EU were difficulties in receiving and sending parts amid warnings of long queues at ports.

Airbus operates a just-in-time supply chain but its "contingency plans" will involve stockpiling parts to enable it to "mitigate the effects" of delays.

Bombardier declined to comment yesterday on what it said were "Airbus's own contingency plans".

A spokeswoman said: "Our wing facility and production remain a key part of Bombardier Aerostructures & Engineering Services. We are fully represented by the position of trade bodies such as the ADS and CBI regarding Brexit and will continue to work through those organisations along with other industry players, including Airbus, to voice our position."

Belfast Telegraph