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Scottish Aerospace, Marine and Defence Sectors Geared for Growth

  • Friday, 6th November 2009
  • Reading time: about 4 minutes

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Scottish Enterprise has launched a new industry-led strategy for the Aerospace, Defence and Marine Industry.

The sector employs over 22,000 people and supports the jobs of a further 30,000 within Scotland, and this strategy – developed by the leading figures within the sector – outlines an action plan to advance the industry within Scotland.

The plan aims to encourage greater collaboration between the public, private and academic sectors, increase research and development activity, particularly involving Scotland’s small to medium sized enterprise sector, and to further develop the industry’s highly skilled and motivated workforce.

Spirit AeroSystems, which manufactures wing structures a range of aircraft, including for the world’s biggest airliner, the Airbus A380, have opened this research and development centre for the development of products and manufacturing methods using composite materials. Composite materials feature heavily in modern aviation design and this new centre will create or secure more than 50 jobs at the site. Slingsby Advanced Composites opened its new composites design and manufacturing facility, a facility that will create nearly 30 new jobs.

The launch at Prestwick coincided with the opening, by First Minister Alex Salmond, of two new aerospace facilities.

First Minister Alex Salmond said: “I am delighted that Slingsby and Spirit have demonstrated their confidence in Scotland’s economy, and the skills and experience of the local workforce, with their plans for significant investment in the Ayrshire area.

“”The Scottish Government recognises the real challenges that individuals, families and businesses face in the current economic climate and that is why we are working hard to strengthen the economy and to increase employment opportunities.

“We are using every tool at our disposal to stimulate Scotland’s economy, including various forms of government support to help secure and create jobs and attract investment.

“This new Aerospace, Defense and Marine Industry strategy will build on our work to create new opportunities for employment and economic growth.”

Lena Wilson, chief operating officer of Scottish Enterprise and CEO of Scottish Development International, said: “Over the last three years, the Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise have committed over £30 million of support to the development of companies in this sector.

“This high-tech engineering sector is one we need to encourage in order to maximise its already positive impact on Scottish economy and this strategy, and the investments being made by companies such as Spirit AeroSystems and Slingsby Advanced Composites, will ensure the sector continues to prosper in Scotland.”

Spirit AeroSystems’ new multi-million pound Composite Development Centre will create or secure 52 jobs as part of the near 1000-strong Spirit’s UK workforce.

Speaking at the opening, Scott McLarty, operations and HR director for Spirit AeroSystems (Europe) Limited said: “Opening our new R&D facility in Scotland is an important part of ensuring that Spirit maintains and grows its critical role in the design, development and manufacture of aircraft wing structures.

“Composite materials help reduce aircraft weight on current models but also offer significant improvements in fuel consumption, performance and cabin environment while reducing emissions on the future generations of aircraft. Mastering this technology is therefore vital to the long term sustainability of the aviation industry.

“We intend to remain at the leading edge of this technology and the new centre here at Prestwick underlines our commitment to that goal.”

The growing business opportunities presented by the increased use of composite materials throughout the aerospace, defence and marine industry is at the heart of the decision by Yorkshire-based Slingsby Advanced Composites to establish its new facility at Prestwick.

With an initial target of 28 staff and plans to grow beyond this, the Prestwick site is the first expansion of the company since it was created in 2006, having previously operated with over 70 years experience in the aerospace sector.

The UK has around 13 per cent of global aerospace industry sales. The global aerospace, defence and marine market is valued at over $1.42 trillion. Scotland currently has over 400 companies directly involved in the sector and is the leading location for shipbuilding, with fully one third of the UK industry.

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