The aerospace industry has a new champion – and it has already made its mark. Tim Gavell reports.
Demand for specialist aerospace engineering companies is set to take off over the next decade as airlines across the world look to replace aircraft and new and emerging markets grow.
That was the view from the Farnborough International Airshow where billions of pounds worth of new deals were announced by the likes of Airbus, Virgin and Boeing.
Right at the heart of the show in a huge trade hall was the new organisation aimed at making Lancashire the hub of the industry – Aerospace Lancashire.
The joint venture between Lancashire County Council and the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership has appointed investment agents Colliers International to market the Samlesbury Enterprise Zone site.
Andy Walker, head of Business Growth at Lancashire County Council said: “Lancashire has an unrivalled offer within the UK with regards to aerospace and we continue to compete successfully on a global scale with other leading international aerospace hubs.
“We have been promoting that the Samlesbury Enterprise Zone site is primed for aerospace investment and development, that we have a highly-skilled aerospace workforce, great national and international connectivity, world-class universities driving innovation, and a long tradition of advanced manufacturing excellence throughout the entire supply chain.
“Putting all this together, and showing that the region’s private and public sector are both fully behind a drive for growth within Lancashire’s aerospace sector through initiatives like Aerospace Lancashire that reinforces our position of strength in this sector”.
Senior project officer Sue Roberts said: “Because of the sheer demand there is from the civil aviation sector the need to expand the supply chain is huge and growing. They just cannot get enough.
“There area also the emerging markets such as China.
“China is building new scores of new airports and ordering brand new aircraft.
“Even in the mature markets we have seen this week expansion and huge new orders and the number of passengers world wide is predicted to rocket.”
Guy Gilfillan director at Colliers International said Samlesbury’s 220 hectares with its new access road close to the M6 motorway, its high speed broadband and full utilities plus its proximity to BAE Systems site was ideally placed to attract up to 10,000 hi-tech jobs in years to come.
He said: “The global demand is huge and the potential for companies to come to the enterprise zone is huge too.
“From the discussion we have had, the industry is feeling the need to be closer to prime operators such as BAE.
“There are a lot of companies out there seeking component suppliers, more are needed.
“The enterprise zone is ‘oven ready’ an ideal place for these companies to base themselves.” Specialist logistics company Wincanton is the first to locate a new base at the enterprise zone, creating 70 local jobs in the process.
A spokesman said: “We carry out a great deal of the logistics work for BAE Systems and so it made sense to consolidate our operations right next door.
“We have 130,000 sq ft of warehousing in the purpose built Defence Logistics Centre.”
Aerospace Lancashire was at the heart of a North West aerospace presence at Farnborough facilitated by the North West Aerospace Alliance (NWAA) trade association which featured around ten county companies and the University of Central Lancashire.
Meanwhile, BAE Systems has welcomed a 10-year partnership arrangement – expected to be worth £2.1bn – with the Ministry of Defence to support the UK Typhoon fleet.