Kennedy announces major R&D investment by RTX
Pictured (L-R) are Mel Chittock, Interim CEO, Invest Northern Ireland; Joe Kennedy III, US, Special Envoy to Northern Ireland for Economic Affairs; Alan Henning, Managing Director of Operations; Collins Aerospace’s Kilkeel facility.
US company Collins Aerospace, an RTX business, has invested over £16m in an ambitious R&D project at its Kilkeel site that is helping develop highly innovative passenger seating products for wide body and twin aisle aircraft.
The announcement was made by Joe Kennedy III, the US Special Envoy to Northern Ireland for Economic Affairs, who visited the company’s Kilkeel premises whilst leading a senior US business delegation to Northern Ireland last year.
Mr Kennedy said: “Over the last 50 years in the global aviation seating market, RTX, through its Collins Aerospace business in Kilkeel, has contributed to Northern Ireland’s thriving aerospace sector. It was a pleasure to visit the company and see first-hand its research and innovation. This new investment will see it design and manufacture its new line of passenger seats which will help further its export growth ambitions.
Following a US business delegation visit and having spoken with many top US executives, I am convinced that there is a real eagerness to explore what Northern Ireland has to offer.
Joe Kennedy II, US Special Envoy to Northern Ireland for Economic Affairs
“Following a US business delegation visit and having spoken with many top US executives, I am convinced that there is a real eagerness to explore what Northern Ireland has to offer. Companies like Collins Aerospace, that have a long history in Northern Ireland, are a testament to the benefits of investing here.”
Collins Aerospace employs over 800 employees at its Kilkeel facility which specialises in aircraft interiors.
Alan Henning, Managing Director of Operations for Collins Aerospace’s Kilkeel facility, said: “As a renowned leader in the design and manufacture of interior aircraft solutions, Collins Aerospace is continually seeking to elevate levels of comfort for airline customers.
“This R&D investment aimed to create the most efficient production system for a new, innovative and highly complex aircraft seat that is far superior to anything else currently on the market. Our team in Kilkeel have a strong reputation for R&D and innovation excellence and were well positioned to undertake this challenging project.”
The decision to locate this significant R&D project in Collins Aerospace’s Kilkeel facility reflects the confidence that the company has in the team there and in Northern Ireland’s advanced engineering capability.
Mel Chittock, Interim CEO, Invest Northern Ireland
The investment has been supported by Invest Northern Ireland, which has worked with the company over many years providing a wide range of financial and advisory support.
Welcoming the investment, Mel Chittock, Invest NI’s Interim CEO, said: “The decision to locate this significant R&D project in Collins Aerospace’s Kilkeel facility reflects the confidence that the company has in the team there and in Northern Ireland’s advanced engineering capability. Invest NI has supported the growth and development of the team over a number of years, providing assistance with skills improvement, research and development, and smart manufacturing approaches.
“Increasing levels of R&D and innovation is the central aim of the Department for the Economy’s 10x vision for the Northern Ireland economy. This project will contribute to achieving that goal and cement the Collins Aerospace Kilkeel facility as a key asset within the wider RTX company.”
Northern Ireland currently manufactures 30 per cent of the global demand for aircraft seats and the industry is an important part of the region’s Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering sector, which has been identified as a priority cluster within the 10x strategy.
Invest NI’s R&D support is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund under the Investment for Growth and Jobs Northern Ireland (2014–2020) Programme.