The Rt Hon George Osborne MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer today opened a new facility that places the UK at the forefront of high-precision aerospace manufacturing. GKN Aerospace’s £170 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, the GKN Aerospace Western Approach facility has over 30,000m2 of floor space across two buildings, one focused on manufacture, the second on assembly. It uses the latest robotic technologies needed to produce complex wing structures. Employment is expected to rise to 450 employees by 2016.
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.
Two major contracts are underway at the site already: 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.
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GKN Aerospace is the aerospace operation of GKN plc, serving a global customer base and operating in North America, the Asia Pacific and Europe. With sales of GBP1.5bn, the business is focused around three major product areas – aerostructures, propulsion systems and transparencies, plus a number of specialist products – electro-thermal ice protection, fuel and flotation systems, and bullet resistant glass. The business is equally split along military and civil lines with significant participation on all major aircraft programmes today. GKN Aerospace is a major supplier of complex composite structures; offers one of the most comprehensive capabilities in high performance metallics processing and is the world leading supplier of cockpit transparencies and passenger cabin windows.