The Industry and Parliament Trust organised a visit for a cross-party group of parliamentarians to Bombardier’s site in Belfast: the site of their engineering, fuselage and wing production. The visit is part of a wider educational programme for parliamentarians to gain additional insight to industry. This visit aimed to equip the delegates with knowledge of Bombardier’s business including: their development in technology, how they maintain and grow a skilled workforce, and the importance of their supply chain.
The group were shown around Bombardier’s fuselage assembly facility, where they design and manufacture fuselages for both commercial and business aircrafts. Witnessing the assembly facility in full-flow was particularly useful for Chris Matheson MP. His constituency, City of Chester, is home to businesses such as Airbus UK that also designs and produces of aircraft parts. Seeing how other aircraft manufacturing businesses work, and learning about the issues they face, will assist Chris in his role as an MP and in his position on the Aerospace and General Aviation All Party Parliamentary Group.
The delegation was also given a tour of wing facility. The facility produces the wings for the various CSeries aircrafts and was opened in 2013 by then prime minister David Cameron. Learning about how the sophisticated process required to make the wings - using carbon-fibre composite technology which leads to greater aircraft efficiency – was valuable to Carol Monaghan, MP for Glasgow North West, who is currently undertaking an IPT Fellowship where she is focussing on how industry uses science and technology to improve its efficiency and sustainability measures.
Bill Esterson MP, a BEIS shadow minister and Royston Smith MP, a former aeronautical engineer, benefitted from seeing how aviation businesses like Bombardier are helping to create and maintain a skilled-force in the UK using advanced technology. It is widely thought that if the UK is to stay competitive in aviation, a sector that contributes around £35bn annually to the UK economy, it will need to produce workers capable of high value design and digital engineering excellence.
Nigel Evans MP, who completed his IPT Fellowship specifically on the aviation sector, was impressed with what he saw at the site. He said he felt the day gave him ‘a real sense of the challenges that a state of the art design and manufacturing company faces in a specialist but keenly competitive field’. He was also pleased to see they have considered environmental factors in their entire process; from energy to procurement.