Double celebration for Bristol's aviation industry
BRISTOL'S vital aviation industry looks set for a double celebration today as Airbus announced a huge new order while the Government is expected to pledge a massive investment in the sector which could eventually be worth up to £1 billion.
The Government announcement, which is thought will have a major impact on Filton, is due to be made later today.
According to industry reports the Government is planning a decade-long investment aimed at protecting the UK's position as a world leader of aerospace manufacturing.
The Airbus plant in Filton employs around 4,000 staff and is seen as a world leader in design, research and technology. Less than a mile away the Rolls-Royce factory is viewed as a world leader in the field of developing jet engines for fighter planes.
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South Gloucestershire has also been chosen as a centre for research into the latest composites – the ultra-light materials which are being seen as the future of aviation manufacturing.
The announcement will come just days after Airbus celebrated a £9 billion order for just under 120 A320 aircraft from Turkish Airlines, the largest ever placed by a Turkish carrier.
John Leahy, Airbus' chief operating officer negotiated the deal. He said: "We are delighted with this new order from Turkish Airlines, which takes us above 2,000 orders in a little over two years after launch.
"This order confirms that the aircraft is the most cost-effective and profitable solution for airlines with ambitious growth plans."
Turkish Airlines already operates 75 A320 aircraft and the new order will help the airline expand their short to medium-haul routes from their Istanbul hub.
In total, more than 9,150 A320 aircraft have been ordered and more than 5,450 delivered to more than 385 airlines worldwide.
Today, the Government is expected to unveil the latest stage of the Aerospace Growth Partnership in a bid to help Britain gain a bigger share of the global aerospace market.
The move follows similar initiatives for the defence and automotive industries. The aim is to re-balance the struggling economy back towards the private sector and comes just days before the Chancellor's budget.
It will involve money committed by the major companies in the sector being match-funded by the Government.
The focus of the funding will be towards supporting the infrastructure on which the aerospace industry depends, such as research and development activity, and protecting and enhancing the sector's supply chain. Much of that takes place in Bristol and South Gloucestershire.
Despite the loss of Filton Airfield the area is still seen as a world leader in aerospace design and research.
Around 27,000 new large civil aeroplanes will be needed by 2030. Aerospace is a £24 billion a year earner with a workforce of around 100,000, and the Bristol region is a major player, with Airbus, Rolls-Royce and GKN all based in Filton.
Around 40,000 highly skilled people are employed in the industry in Bristol and the surrounding area.
Bristol was the birthplace of the aviation industry and thousands still work in the sector in the area.
It is understood the Government will commit to backing the partnership for 10 years, well beyond the lifetime of the Coalition Government. Industry sources say that the total sum could eventually reach £1 billion.
The investment is on top of £120 million committed to aerospace research when the partnership was launched at last year's Farnborough International Airshow by Business Secretary Vince Cable.
The money has already funded 500 post-grad degrees in aeronautical engineering and a Rolls-Royce project to develop low carbon engines with several hundred of those coming to Filton.
A Government report out last week said: "The UK's current strength is the result of significant public and private investment in research and technology in the late last century.
"The UK aerospace industry is faced with increasing competition globally, not only from traditional aerospace manufacturing nations but also from developing aerospace nations.
"We can't stand still. To stay at the forefront of the increasingly global aerospace industry, the UK needs to secure strategic work packages on the new programmes, as those we are currently working on come to the end of production and support over the next few years. Action is needed now to ensure that public and private investment is increased to globally competitive levels."