£1m investment saves aerospace engineering jobs


Jobs at an aircraft engineering plant in Blackwood have been safeguarded after a £1 million investment.

British Airways Interior Engineering (BAIE), based in Hawtin Park, has been approved to overhaul evacuation slides on BA's new A380 fleet of aircraft.

The aircraft slides are traditionally maintained by the original equipment manufacturer that made them for Airbus and hence BA is the world's first airline to get manufacturer approval to carry out this work.

The approval follows a £1m investment by BAIE in new tooling, and the reconfiguration of its workshops in Blackwood. The latter was supported by a £318,000 business finance from the Welsh Government.

The new work will create 15 new jobs and safeguards 23 jobs.

The certification, awarded after BAIE technicians underwent slide maintenance training in Phoenix, Arizona, is particularly significant as some of the aircraft BAIE is currently approved and qualified to work on are due to retire in ten years.

By extending its capability and gaining manufacturer's approval BAIE will be able to carry out inflation systems checks, component repairs and replacement, and slide testing and repacking on BA's eight A380s.

Welcoming the news, Economy Minister Edwina Hart said: "BAIE is a global player and to maintain this status it has to keep changing its mix of products and services to meet the changing needs of the global aerospace sector and the new generation of aircraft.

"This is an important long term investment by BAIE which is now in pole position to win more of this work while the potential for future growth is significant as the rate of orders for the A380 increases annually.

"BA is a key member of one of our priority economic sectors and has strong, established links with Wales where three of its subsidiaries are based and I am delighted the Welsh Government helped secure this additional work for Wales that will also create and safeguard jobs."

Ceri Powell, Head of Interiors Engineering at BAIE, said: "We are delighted to be the first airline to gain the capability for maintaining A380 slides.

"We have made significant investment in training, tools and equipment to become the only airline to be able to carry out this work and we look forward to supporting the fleet of A380 aircraft."

BAIE is responsible for the refurbishment of the interior of all BA aircraft, including passenger seats, cabin toilet compartments, carpets, and the overhaul of all on-board safety products including slides and rafts.

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