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OEM Report: Aerospace
Monday | 10 August, 2009 | 6:00 am

Taking flight

By Lisa Rummler

August 2009 - Wales and Airbus, Toulouse, France, further solidified their partnership in June when the country's Assembly Government granted the company nearly $46 million.

The money is allocated to create a center at the company's Broughton, Wales, facility, which is dedicated to developing and producing wings made of composite material.

"We welcome the Welsh Assembly Government's vital, forward-thinking investments in composites," said Brian Fleet, manufacturing director for Airbus UK, in a report by the BBC. "This investment helps us to look beyond the acute challenges that currently face us as a result of the global economic downturn and allow us to take a long view into the future."

Currently, the Broughton site employs more than 6,000, but three months ago, Airbus announced plans to eliminate 250 agency jobs there, according to the BBC.

The composite wing technology will be developed at an environmentally friendly facility, and the developments that come out of Broughton will be implemented on future aircraft.

Looking ahead
Additionally, the investment in Airbus will help promote advanced manufacturing skills for workers at the Broughton plant.

According to News Wales, "This investment will build future skill sets and strengthen the role of Wales as a center of high-technology industries."

Airbus is an integral part of the Welsh economy, according to Rhodri Morgan AM, first minister for Wales. He also says he anticipates the alliance between Wales and Airbus to be long-term.

"We can all celebrate a major investment guaranteeing Airbus' partnership with Wales for years, if not decades, to come," said Morgan in a report by the BBC. "We also celebrate the fact Wales and the United Kingdom will now be moving into the mainstream in composites manufacturing--not just playing at composites by moving to the top end of high-tech composites manufacturing technology.Ó

Jenny Randerson AM, economy spokeswoman for the Welsh Liberal Democrat Party, said the grant to Airbus is a step in the right direction for the local economy.

"I, of course, welcome the fact that the government is prioritizing the future of one of the most important employers in north Wales," she said in a report by the BBC. "But we won't stem the tide of unemployment and economic downturn just by grant funding businesses and employers." MM

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