Boeing 737 aircraft

Boeing opens first European manufacturing facility in Sheffield

Image credit: Pixabay

The opening of aerospace giant Boeing’s first-ever European manufacturing plant, located in Sheffield, has been hailed as “hugely significant” for South Yorkshire, the North of England and the UK as a whole.

The 6,200m2 facility will make components for Boeing’s latest 737 and 767 commercial jets. The £40m investment has launched with 52 staff, including experienced engineers and more than 20 apprentices, the company said.

Sheffield City Region Mayor Dan Jarvis said: “This opening of this new facility is hugely significant for South Yorkshire, the wider Northern Powerhouse and, indeed, for the UK.

“Boeing’s choice of location is a strong sign of confidence in our advanced engineering excellence, confidence in our workforce and strong manufacturing heritage and confidence in the cutting-edge collaborations between university and business that enable us to lead the world.”

Boeing Sheffield will manufacture over 100 different high-tech actuation components for the 737 and 767 wing trailing edge, the company said. Actuation systems move the wing flaps at the back of the wing to provide extra lift at low speeds during take-off and landing.

The firm said that, at full capacity, Boeing Sheffield will produce thousands of parts each month, which will be shipped to the US for assembly at Boeing’s plant in Portland, Oregon.

Jenette Ramos, Boeing senior vice president of Manufacturing, Supply Chain and Operations, said: “We appreciate all the community support for Boeing’s new advanced manufacturing factory in the UK. This is a fabulous example of how we are engaging global talent to provide greater value to our customers.

“In Boeing Sheffield, we are building on longstanding relationships and the region’s manufacturing expertise to enhance our production system and continue to connect, protect, explore and inspire aerospace innovation.”

Boeing also said that the components manufactured at Boeing Sheffield are made from raw materials sourced from UK suppliers. These include Aeromet International Ltd, a Worcester-based supplier of advanced aluminium and magnesium cast parts, and Liberty Speciality Steels, located three miles from the new factory.

Business Secretary Greg Clark said: “Boeing choosing the heart of South Yorkshire as its first European home is testament to our capabilities, talent pool and strong manufacturing supply chains which are vital to job creation and creating value for local economies.

“We are leading the world in UK aerospace manufacturing and through our modern Industrial Strategy we, along with industry, have committed to invest £3.9bn in aerospace.”

The new plant is situated alongside the University of Sheffield’s Factory 2050, part of the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), building on a 17-year relationship between the aerospace giant and the university.

The facility has been built on the former site of the now-defunct Sheffield City Airport.

Meanwhile, Boeing’s share price rose after the company reported strong results for the third quarter and also upped its 2018 year-end forecast. Boeing’s defence arm delivered increased business for the company, while the commercial wing delivered 190 commercial aircraft in the third quarter, bringing the total number of deliveries for the year to date up to 568.

The 737 aircraft - the production focus for the new Sheffield plant - is central to Boeing’s commercial business. Production continues to increase, in line with Boeing’s pledge to deliver over 800 planes in 2018, aiming for an average key production rate of 52 aircraft per month.

China is one of Boeing’s biggest nation customers, representing approximately one-third of total orders for the 737. US President Donald Trump’s ongoing trade war with China is thus a concern for the company, but at present there are no signs of any operational difficulties for Boeing.

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