Representatives from The Boeing Company, the world’s largest aerospace firm, were in Belfast today to showcase technological developments which could present significant future export opportunities for local companies.
Invest Northern Ireland hosted the event, during which delegates from 12 local aerospace supply companies, Queen’s University Belfast and the University of Ulster heard advice and guidance from Boeing on the latest techniques in the growing high-tech composite materials sector. Composite materials, which are lighter and more durable than metal, are becoming increasingly predominant in the aerospace and defence sectors.
The Boeing team also conveyed to delegates how they can, through the company’s Industrial Participation programme, directly market their products and services to companies in the Boeing supply chain and to the US Department of Defense.
The Boeing team included representatives from its commercial and defence businesses as well as two senior experts from Phantom Works, the company’s advanced research and development division and a world leader in aerospace innovation. As well as participating in interactive group workshops, delegates also took the opportunity to meet with the Boeing experts on a one-to-one basis.
Speaking at the event, Brian Moran, Boeing’s Director of UK Industrial Participation programmes, said: “We recognise the extensive tradition, and consequent high level of expertise, that exists in Northern Ireland in all aspects of aerospace design and manufacture, and there is clearly a growing desire to increase the composite supply capability here.
“Today’s event has been a great success. Our industrial participation and R&D teams had the opportunity to present details of some of the latest market developments to NI companies, which are amongst the most talented and innovative aerospace firms in the UK. By discussing technological advances, I am confident that local firms and the university research facilities will be able to develop their global composites capability even further.”
Mr Moran continued: “Northern Ireland has a global reputation for the high standard of skills available, with a steady flow of engineering graduates and close links forged between the aerospace sector and the universities. This, along with the ongoing support of Invest NI, bodes well for the future of composites development here.”
Kevin McCann, Invest NI’s Director of Transport, Construction and Tourism, said: “The presence here today of some of the world’s leading composites experts from Boeing is an indicator of the esteem in which Northern Ireland’s aerospace supply sector is held internationally. This event represented an excellent opportunity for local companies and university specialists in the sector to learn more about composite manufacture, whilst establishing what could become a useful and lucrative relationship with the foremost name in global aviation.
“There is already significant local expertise in composite manufacture, but there remains scope for even greater capability. By embracing innovation and seeking out improvements in both products and processes, companies here can maximise their ability to compete in challenging international markets and contribute to increasing the productivity level of Northern Ireland as a whole.”