Who is involved in the Isle of Man Aerospace Cluster and what is its purpose?
The Aerospace Cluster has eighteen companies at the moment and those companies employ and support around 1000 jobs on the island. What we are doing is aspiring to world class. Aerospace is a world class industry and the standards that we work to are probably the best in terms of engineering and manufacturing. We are also trying to pass on the knowledge in the core aerospace cluster out into the wider supply chain on the island.
Why has a focused interest in the aerospace industry developed on the Isle of Man?
The Aerospace Cluster on the Isle of Man is not a new thing. We’ve had an aerospace industry on the Isle of Man for about 60 years. It has grown from an even older engineering heritage. The aerospace industry on the island developed around the growing industry in the UK and the need for companies to expand and put their businesses in places that had a willing and enthused workforce.
“The primes are projecting enormous rate increases on build for aircraft and we’re involved in just about every civil and military programme in the world” – Adrian Moore, chairman and founder of Man Aerospace Cluster
Are there any particular challenges which face companies on the Isle of Man?
The challenges on the island are very similar to the rest of the UK. One of the main challenges is getting young people enthused about engineering and manufacturing as a career. We’re doing a great deal here to try and solve that and have a unique situation given the size of the island which makes it easier to network and reach out to schools, colleges, teachers and parents. We have a programme called Awareness of Careers in Engineering which has reached 8,000 students in four years. In terms of other challenges, we are pretty dependent on how the global order books perform but, as we have seen, there is a huge amount of work out there at the moment. The primes are projecting enormous rate increases on build for aircraft and we’re involved in just about every civil and military programme in the world at the moment so it is looking good for us.
Where do the Isle of Man Aerospace companies sit in the global aerospace supply chain?
We’ve got a real mix. We’re right at the top in terms of design with companies like Assystem who are designing for the likes of Airbus, BAE Systems and Bombardier. There are a number of other companies here that sit right across the supply chains; sometimes they are primes or at least tier ones and preferred suppliers to the main airframe and engine manufacturers. And then we’ve got companies going down into the second, third and even fourth tier companies as well as service companies that supply into the aerospace industry.
How can the UK aerospace industry remain ahead of the curve in terms of challenges from global competition?
Where Britain and the Isle of Man will win against the global competition is by proving excellence and value for money. We have a great heritage for engineering, particularly in the aerospace industry and that is not something you can acquire overnight or even buy. We launched a programme here called Journey to Process Excellence, which is Rolls-Royce’s own business improvement tool. It allows the cluster businesses to measure against the Rolls-Royce world class model and then put in place business improvement plans to take themselves to this world class standard. This programme and other similar ones, such as SC21 and ASCE, are going to be key for the UK to be able to stay ahead of the curve.