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07 Apr 06. BAE Systems’ decision to sell its 20 per cent stake in Airbus will give rise to deep concerns about the security of the jobs at Airbus’s UK plants and at its hundreds of UK suppliers. But the reality behind the worries will be rather different. For several years those jobs have been dependent not so much on the BAE equity stake in Europe’s flagship aircraft maker as on the hundreds of millions of pounds that the UK government has poured into refundable launch aid for Airbus. As long as the government continues to step up to the plate, and as long as the UK remains competitive on costs, those jobs are likely to be safe, and more rather than less Airbus work can come to the UK. There is much at stake and there are strong reasons for the government to remain supportive of Airbus regardless of the nationality of its equity ownership. Airbus UK, with its plants at Filton, near Bristol and Broughton, near Chester represents the core of the UK civil aerospace industry, employing directly 13,000 people and supporting up to 135,000 jobs in the supply chain and other parts of the UK economy. The tabular content relating to this article is not available to view. Apologies in advance for the inconvenience caused.The UK has traditionally been the centre of excellence for wing development and production in the Airbus production system across Europe, and Airbus UK builds the wings for all current Airbus aircraft. UK government resolve in continuing to fund the Airbus effort to develop new aircraft was sorely tested last year, when Airbus was seeking backing to develop its new A350, a long range, medium capacity aircraft to compete with the 787 Dreamliner being offered by Boeing of the US.
Government support, which could total up to £380m, was regarded by the UK aerospace industry as vital to protect the UK technology base and to maintain the central UK role in future Airbus programmes alongside France, Germany and Spain. For the first time Airbus has switched from aluminium to composites technology for making aircraft wings, hitherto the exclusive UK preserve in the Airbus system, which could have allowed the company to switch some key wing component manufacturing from the UK to elsewhere in Europe, to Spain or to Germany, for future aircraft generations. The government was “fully aware and very conscious” of the “technological risks for this country” in the A350 decision, however, a senior Whitehall official said at the time. And the commitment to further financial support was forthcoming, despite bellicose rhetoric against making such a step from Washington. The US government is fighting a bitter trade battle at the World Trade Organisation against what it regards as illegal subsidies by European governments to Airbus. UK Prime Minister Tony Blair enjoys using Airbus as a stage to demonstrate UK prowess in advanced technology and manufacturing, and although Britain’s participation in the European aircraft maker has come at a price, the government has always been prepared to stump up its share of the development funds. (Source: FT)
Apr 06. RAF: Transformation Events. A number of RAF events took place on 31 Mar/1 Apr 06:-
* No 3 Group was closed, reducing Strike Command from three Groups to two.
* The first operational Typhoon Squadron, No 3 (Fighter) Squadron, was formed at RAF Cottesmore.
* RAF Coltishall closed as an operational flying Station and the Jaguar aircraft of No 6 Squadron transferred to RAF Coningsby.
* RAF Stafford and RAF Sealand closed with their assets transferring to the new logistics ‘hub’ at
RAF Wittering and the new communications ‘hub’ at RAF Leeming.
* Expeditionary Air Wings (EAW) were formed, to support Operations, at nine main bases: Coningsby, Cottesmore, Kinloss, Leeming, Leuchars, Lossiemouth, Lyneham, Marham and Waddington.
An allied event was the formation of 800 Naval Air Squadron with GR7/9 Harrier aircraft at RAF Cottesmore, as part of Joint Force Harrier.
Comment: The changes were tim

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