Winner Airbus UK
NO one could have envisaged that when aircraft were first built at Filton the industry would still be a major contributor to the Bristol region economy more than a hundred years later.
Down the years, many thousands of people, including three or more generations from the same family, have taken home a pay packet from the aircraft works and aviation firms that lined the A38 in South Gloucestershire.
The industry also provides work for many more through engineering sub-contractors and suppliers in the ever expanding chain.
Today Airbus UK employs around 4,500 people at Filton working on the Airbus family of commercial and military aircraft.
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The multi-national and pan- European firm says it will be recruiting 500 new staff, many of them engineers, this year at its plants at Filton and Broughton in Wales.
Airbus has become a company which employs a highly skilled and highly trained workforce.
"We also recruit some 100 apprentices a year. This includes a new apprentice scheme we have called the Undergraduate Apprentice Scheme which will give them the opportunity to gain a Bachelor of Engineering degree," said spokesman Jason Impey.
More than 2,000 engineers at the site are involved in a range of areas, including wing integration, flight physics, structures and systems.
Filton is also responsible for wing assembly and equipping for the A400M multi-role airlifter, and is home to a Composites Structures Development Centre – which is at the cutting edge of the aviation industry.
The company was given a major boost earlier this month thanks to a Scandinavian airline. Norwegian, one of the biggest budget airlines in Europe, placed an order for 100 new aircraft.
This is an order worth an estimated £6.5 billion and makes Norwegian one of the biggest operators of the fuel efficient A320 neo aircraft in the world.
The technology was designed and developed at Filton and, as a result, the A320 has become one of the fast-selling planes in the history of the aviation industry. More orders for it are expected when the Farnborough International Airshow takes place at the start of next month. The industry gathering is the key event in the aviation calendar and normally results in orders worth billions of pounds.
Over the last 12 months Airbus UK has overtaken its American rival Boeing, to become the biggest aircraft maker in the world.
In 2011 the firm delivered 534 commercial aircraft to 88 customers, marking the 10th year in a row with an increase in production output.
Its backlog at the end of December was 4,437 aircraft – valued at more than $588 billion at list prices, and equalling seven to eight years of production.
"We invested £417 million in research and development last year," said Mr Impey. "This helped us keep our competitive edge in a global marketplace. Filton is a centre of engineering excellence for research, design and testing, specialising in wings, fuel systems and fuel testing."
The first aircraft to be constructed on the site Airbus occupies was the Bristol Boxkite, a product of the British and Colonial Aircraft Company which was set up in 1910 by transport pioneer and businessman Sir George White who was born in Cotham. The firm designed and built both aircraft and engines.