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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 March 2006, 13:02 GMT
Jobs boost for aerospace company
The company won a major order to make seats for BA
A County Down company which makes aircraft seats has doubled in size and has taken on more than 200 new staff.

The American owned B/E Aerospace now employs 500 people, making seats for the world's biggest airlines.

The company officially opened its extended factory in Kilkeel on Wednesday.

The new plant was built with 3m support from Invest Northern Ireland. In November, the company won an order to build seats for British Airways.

BBC NI business editor James Kerr said the news represented a dramatic turnaround in fortunes at the company over the past five years.

"After the terrorist attacks of September 11 and the decline in air travel, the factory was threatened with closure," he said.

"Instead, the US-owned company took the difficult decision to close a plant in the US and transfer production to Northern Ireland."

Since then, the factory has added new customers and significant new orders including the provision of new flat bed business class seats for the BA long haul fleet.

The Kilkeel firm is now turning out 8,000 seats per month.

Success

Leslie Morrison, chief executive of Invest NI said the expansion marked a "significant chapter" in the company's development and was a testament to its continued success.

"By investing in improved research and development the company is helping to safeguard its future and enhance its ability to compete at a global level," he said.

Clifford McSpadden, managing director of B/E Aerospace, said the plant was the largest aircraft seat production facility in the aerospace industry.

B/E Aerospace has worked closely with both the University of Ulster and Queen's University Belfast in developing its seating centre of excellence.

The new expansion will help to stimulate further research programmes with both universities and potentially create a number of mutually beneficial projects.




SEE ALSO:
Seat deal secures aerospace jobs
16 Nov 05 |  Northern Ireland
Jobs boost follows aerospace investment
22 Mar 02 |  Northern Ireland


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