Irish aviation firm creates 124 Northern Ireland jobs as it sets up Belfast base to Brexit-proof its business
An Irish aviation services company has said a new operation in Belfast that has created 124 jobs is part of its Brexit-proofing strategy.
Eirtech Aviation Services, which is based at Shannon Airport in Co Clare, had considered locations in the Republic, England and Europe for its composites repair centre.
But chief executive David Kerr said the high level of skills in Northern Ireland, as well as the support of Ulster University and economic development agency Invest NI, had convinced it to set up here.
It has now established a centre for repairs on commercial aircraft on Queen's Road under a new limited company, Eirtech Aviation Composites.
Composites are lightweight, high-tech materials developed to replace metals.
Mr Kerr told the Belfast Telegraph he hoped the company might avail of the skills of former aerospace manufacturing staff at Bombardier, which has shed staff in recent years.
And he added that he hoped Bombardier could become a future customer for the work it carries out on engine nacelles.
Eirtech's clients include major airlines such as US giants United Airlines, Delta Airlines, and WestJet in Canada.
Ten of the new jobs at Channel Commercial Park off Queen's Road are already in place, with the remaining to be filled over the next four years. The roles have annual salaries of around £35,000.
Mr Kerr said: "This Belfast facility is part of our strategy to future proof the business, ensuring we have access to the Great Britain marketplace post-Brexit.
"The first phase of recruitment is complete and we will be adding to this consistently over the next four years as we scale the business to meet the needs of our customers globally."
The company will carry out the repair and overhaul of composite components on commercial aircraft including flight controls, nacelles, wing to body faring and overhead bins.
Mr Kerr added: "The growing use of composite materials in aircraft manufacture creates a huge market opportunity for us in the global aviation sector. Northern Ireland has an abundance of people with world-class manufacturing capabilities, a strong aerospace cluster and renowned expertise in composites at NIACE and Ulster University, making it an ideal location."
Invest NI chief executive Alastair Hamilton said: "Northern Ireland is a global leader in aerospace technology and this investment by Eirtech adds a welcome new dynamic to our vibrant aerospace industry.
"The advanced aerospace design and manufacturing capabilities built up over many years has created a strong talent pool, which was a major draw in securing this project."
Invest NI has offered £992,000 of support towards the new positions.