Northern Ireland Government plans closer ties with aerospace sector

Posted on 20 Jan 2012

The enterprise minister for Northern Ireland, Arlene Foster, has stated the importance and success of the country’s aerospace, defence and security sectors to the economy during an event in Parliament Buildings.

Speaking to senior executives from both the local and global aerospace industry, the minister said that aerospace and defence are strategically important for the country in terms its commitment to advanced manufacturing, innovation, exports and skills.

Ms Foster said: “At the core of the local industry are two of the industry’s leaders, Bombardier and Thales, the continued growth of which is essential to the future development of aerospace and defence here.”

Foster declared that she was keen to encourage and to assist the growth of the industry through closer collaboration between these major businesses and the cluster of smaller aerospace and defence companies in Northern Ireland.

“Greater collaboration throughout the sector, which Invest NI and ADS NI are facilitating, could lead to more success for Northern Ireland in a global industry that continues to experience significant growth,” Foster commented.

Rees Ward, chief executive of ADS, said: “If ever there was a part of UK manufacturing which punches above its weight, it is Northern Ireland’s aerospace, defence and security sectors. Employing 7,500 people these sectors contribute almost £1bn per year to the economy – meaning each employee contributes almost £130,000 per year in revenue output.”

In 2010, over 90% (£860million) of ADS Northern Ireland members’ revenue came through exports. Mr Ward commented that with the global aerospace market demonstrating real growth over the past two years “Northern Ireland is set to increase its export potential and create new jobs.”

Leslie Orr, manager at ADS Northern Ireland, told The Manufacturer that there are three reasons why Northern Ireland has a successful aerospace sector:

“1. Heritage. Short Brothers in Belfast, which is now Bombardier, has been building aeroplanes for over one hundred years.

2. Major tier one presence. Bombardier is a key factor, it brings the supply chain. It is currently one of the biggest investors in the UK, the expansion of C-series wing manufacturing facility in resulting in a new 600,000,000 sq ft facility.

3. Skills. The university of Ulster and Queen’s university both have departments looking at aerospace. There is also a the new £6m National Composite Centre due to open on 31 Jan, which has benefitted from BIS funding.

The Manufacturer is engaging with industry in Eire and NI and is due to host an event on 22 March for networking opportunities and manufacturing discussion. Email [email protected] for more details.