New jet creates 400 jobs at Short's

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The Independent Online
Up to 400 new jobs were secured at Short Brothers, the Belfast aero-engineering group, after around US$1.8bn of advance orders were announced for the new Global Express executive jet yesterday. It was also revealed that up to 500 jobs could be created if the company wins work for a regional jet to be launched by Bombardier, Shorts' Canadian parent.

The news comes as a big shot in the arm for the Belfast-based group, which was forced to lay off 700 workers in the wake of the collapse of Fokker, the Dutch aircraft maker.

News of 52 firm orders for the Global Express came as Bombardier rolled out the aircraft for the first time. The jet is the result of a C$800m investment over the past three years and has been designed and built in partnership with Aerospace leaders from six countries. Costing US$34m, it is claimed to be the most advanced business jet of its type and can carry eight executives halfway round the world non-stop at 935kph.

British industry has made an important contribution to the development of the Global Express and is set to benefit substantially from its success. The largest chunk of the British contribution is being made by Shorts, which is building around a quarter of the airframe structure for the aircraft. This involves the forward fuselage, horizontal stabiliser, engine nacelles, and a large percentage of the jet's composite components.

Global Express will create up to 400 jobs at the plant when the jet is in production in around 18 months, bringing the workforce on the programme to 700.

Roy McNulty, chairman of Short's, said the Global Express programme was extremely important: "It is not our largest aerospace project but has the potential to become so. News that 52 orders have been received for the jet before anyone has even seen it is an indication of its long- term future."

Bombardier chairman and chief executive officer Laurent Beaudoin also confirmed that Short's was likely to play a major part in its proposed new regional jet, the RJX-70: "We are in discussion with Short's about the possibility of manufacturing the fuselage, engine nacelles and composites. A decision will be taken before the end of the year." If Short's is successful in securing the RJX-70 work, it would create up to 500 new jobs.

Other British players in the Global Express programme are Lucas Industries, which will supply the electrical power generation and distribution system; Messier-Dowty, which developed and manufactured the landing gear; and a BMW-Rolls Royce alliance, which will supply the jet's BR 710 engines.