(30.04.2012) Rt Hon George Osborne MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer opened a new facility on Friday 27th April that places the UK at the forefront of high-precision aerospace manufacturing. GKN plc's GBP170 million facility has been custom built for the high-speed, high-precision manufacture and assembly of carbon fibre reinforced plastic aircraft wing components that span nearly 30m in length.
Located near Bristol, UK, the GKN Aerospace Western Approach facility has over 30,000m2 of floor space (equivalent to four football pitches) across two buildings, one focused on manufacture, the second on assembly. It uses the latest innovative, robotic technologies needed to produce complex wing structures. Employment is expected to rise to 450 employees by 2016. The plant is already achieving industry firsts since commencing manufacturing.
Speaking at the event, George Osborne, said: "It makes me proud to be here in a factory that is one of the best in the world. GKN's success is an example of what Government and business can achieve by working together. The aerospace industry is a national asset."
Nigel Stein, GKN plc Chief Executive, comments: "This is a great day for GKN – and for UK manufacturing. Western Approach is a vital part of our drive to take a significant part of the growing global wing structures market. This is an investment we have made for the long term ensuring GKN Aerospace strengthens its position in aero structures, making it a global leader in the manufacture of primary composite structures for large aircraft."
Two major work packages are already underway at the site: manufacture of A350 XWB all-composite rear wing spars and assembly of wing trailing edge and main landing gear parts to the spars to create complete 27m long aircraft wing trailing edges; and manufacture of the all-composite main wing spars for the A400M military transporter, also huge assemblies at just under 20m long. The A400M wing spar was the first primary wing structure for a large aircraft created entirely in carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP).
Marcus Bryson, Chief Executive Officer, GKN Aerospace - who also co-chairs the Government’s Aerospace Growth Partnership - comments: "The skills and technologies we are establishing at Western Approach are being supported and developed within UK industry by government, not least through initiatives such as the National Composites Centres. In the NCC here in Bristol we have research ongoing that will move us onto the next stage in aerodynamic wing technologies. I am delighted to acknowledge the strong and consistent support of local and national government and of our customers, employees and suppliers in the creation of this internationally significant facility."