A new aircraft wing manufacturing facility in North Wales, opened by Airbus yesterday, will secure 6,000 jobs.
The additional factory expands existing manufacturing capacity in Broughton, where some of the wings for the A380 aircraft are manufactured. The new facility will produce the carbon fibre wings for the very successful A350 for which Airbus has received about 567 orders.
The new facility is the largest of its kind in the UK. The 46,000 square metre building is the biggest undertaken at the site near Broughton in Flintshire in over eight years. Prime Minister David Cameron who opened this site said the event marked a great day for Wales.
The plant itself will support 650 direct jobs while the A350 XWB programme overall will support over 1,200 jobs in the Airbus sites at Filton and Broughton and over 5,000 other high value jobs across the UK supply chain.
Over £3 billion has been invested in the aircraft and its engines by UK aerospace companies in the programme. Leading the way in the application of composites and innovative design, the new A350 wings will make the aircraft 25% more fuel efficient than the older model.
The Welsh Government provided significant support for the development of the new plant. £29 million of public money was invested in a bid to secure employment for professionals with experience in the use of composites in the area.
Graham Chisnall, managing director aerospace and operations at the sector trade body, ADS was positive about the level of government support behind the plant. “Such a strong level of Governmental commitment towards Aerospace, one of the few manufacturing industries that has consistently grown over the past years, is hugely encouraging,” he said.
North Wales has a strong supply chain in the provision of composites expertise with the local Advanced Composite Training and Development Centre feeding talent into the workplace. This important educational institution was established by Airbus in collaboration with Glyndwr University, Deeside College and the Welsh Government in order to protect the aerospace industry’s future skills base.
Commenting on the opening of the new plant Secretary of State for Wales Cheryl Gillan said: “This is a magnificent facility which will help sustain and support thousands of jobs across the UK. I have been a frequent visitor to Airbus and am confident this will further cement Wales’ growing reputation as a first class innovator and leader in the Aerospace and supply chain sector.
Paul McKinlay, head of the Broughton site, said: “Broughton has got an extremely proud history, 70 years of aviation history. For our employees, this new factory – this aircraft – signals security of employment for the coming years at Broughton, and with 6,000 employees here that’s absolutely great news.”
According to ADS figures the UK aerospace sector supports 360,000 jobs across the UK and in 2010 exported over £16 billion of aerospace equipment. “The industry is a great success” said Mr Chisnall, “and it is thanks to companies such as Airbus, that the UK currently holds 17 per cent of the global market share making us the leader in Europe and only second to the US globally.”