Boeing Co. is opening up its first European manufacturing facility in England. The company is giving a strong vote of confidence in the UK at a time when the country prepares itself to leave the EU.
The US$25 million production plant will specialise in actuation systems – a technology that involves the retraction and extension of the wing flaps in various stages of flight – as it provides parts for the company’s 737 short-haul cargo planes and the 777 wide body aircraft.
In its statement, the U.S. company said that the facility would support Boeing’s effort to improve its in-house production of actuator parts in order to optimise manufacturing, improve quality and lower the cost of purchasing materials. At the start, the facility will provide jobs to 30 workers, with full-scale recruitment set to begin in 2018.
Boeing’s main competitor, Airbus Group SE, has already established its wing production operations in the U.K. and employs 4,000 workers for production and engineering at its site near Bristol. Wing assembly employs a further 6,000 workers in Wales.
Boeing’s facility will be constructed just beside McLaren Automotive Ltd. The car company issued a statement this month saying that it will now manufacture its chassis there in 2019 after it finishes its £50 million production site. McLaren’s transfer from Austria is expected to lessen the U.K. automaker’s susceptibility to possible duties on parts due to Brexit.
A number of U.K. manufacturers like car makers could become vulnerable to higher cross-country tariffs should the country leave the block’s customs union. Aerospace businesses are shielded from such policies under the World Trade Organization (WTO) policies.
Boeing employs 2,000 people in the UK but the work is considered non-manufacturing in nature as the jobs include technical workforce development, sales, and services. They also do maintenance work, specifically on military aircraft like the Chinook combat helicopter.
Boeing’s U.K. facility will be in close coordination with their Portland facility in the States, which focuses mainly on integrated parts, gear assembly and flight consoles. The Oregon site will produce other parts and assemble the actuator systems prior to being sent to Boeing’s Seattle production facility.