Airbus UK is set to receive a ₤28.66 million grant from the Welsh Assembly to support the company’s development of composite wing capability and advanced manufacturing technologies at its Broughton plant.
The announcement comes 13 months after an injection of ₤7.5m capital into the firm’s Composite Wing programme. At the time that was the Assembly Government’s largest investment in research and development.
While Airbus UK – the aircraft manufacturing subsidiary of European aerospace company EADS – is expected to use the lifeline to continue its wing design assembly, it will simultaneously fund a new on-site facility for the development of environmentally-friendly technologies.
Brian Fleet, senior vice-president of the Airbus UK Centre of Excellence Wing and Pylon, said of the cash injection: “We welcome the Welsh Assembly Government’s vital forward-looking investments in composites.
“This investment helps us to look beyond the acute challenges that currently face us as a result of the global economic downturn and allow us to take a long view into the future.
Fleet said the investment “will benefit the people of Wales for generations.”
First Minister for Wales, Rhodri Morgan AM, echoed these sentiments, saying the venture cements Airbus’ partnership with Wales “for years, if not decades, to come.”
He also celebrated the fact that Wales and the United Kingdom will now be moving into the mainstream in composites manufacturing, “not just playing at composites, but moving to the top end of high-tech composite manufacturing technology.”
The venture will safeguard 2,000 jobs just a matter of months since Morgan revealed that 250 redundancies were expected at the Flintshire site, the place where a quarter of engineering apprentices in Wales are trained. However, Ieuan Wyn Jones AM, deputy first minister for Wales, reiterated that the partnership’s benefits extend beyond saving skilled employees, “as important as that is.”
“It is a matter of introducing new technology that will put Wales and the UK at the forefront of carbon fibre composites,” he said.