Sun, Feb 26, 2017 - Page 16 News List

Boeing to open first plant in Europe, post-Brexit


Boeing Co plans to open its first ever European factory in Sheffield, northern England — delivering a vote of confidence in the UK’s manufacturing capabilities as the country prepares to exit the EU.

The £20 million (US$25 million) facility will supply parts for Boeing’s 737 short-haul workhorse and the 777 wide-body, specializing in actuation systems that extend and retract an aircraft’s wing flaps in different phases of flight.

The move advances Boeing’s plans to increase in-house manufacturing of actuator components in order to boost production efficiency, enhance quality control and reduce supply-chain costs, the US company said in a statement on Friday.

The 2,323m2 plant will initially employ 30 people, with recruitment starting next year.

“Our decision to start manufacturing high-value components in the UK is a step-change in our engagement and a further example of Boeing’s commitment to grow here,” Boeing Europe president Michael Arthur said in the release.

The Chicago-based company’s archrival, Airbus Group SE focuses its entire wing-building operation on the UK, with design and some manufacturing undertaken at Filton, England, where 4,000 people are employed, and wing assembly performed at Broughton, Wales, which has more than 6,000 workers.

The Boeing plant is to be located alongside Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, where McLaren Automotive Ltd said this month it would relocate chassis production from Austria in 2019 following the construction of a £50 million factory.

That move that will reduce the UK supercar maker’s exposure to potential tariffs on parts after Brexit.

While many British manufacturers, including automakers, face the threat of increased cross-border duties in the event of the UK leaving the EU customs union, aerospace companies are exempt under WTO rules.

There is still concern that parts might be held up by more rigorous border checks and engineer shortages exacerbated as immigration controls tighten.

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