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Nick Clegg set to unveil boost for West's aerospace industry

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: March 18, 2013

Deputy PM Nick Clegg is expected to announce more government backing

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The West Country’s aerospace industry is expected to receive a major boost today with a government-led investment plan worth hundreds of millions of pounds due to be announced by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

Industry reports suggest he will unveil the latest stage of the Aerospace Growth Partnership in a bid to help Britain gain a bigger share of the global aerospace market. The move follows similar initiatives for the defence and automotive industries.

It will involve money committed by the major companies in the sector being match-funded by the Government. The focus of the funding will be towards supporting the infrastructure on which the aerospace industry depends, such as research and development activity, and protecting and enhancing the sector’s supply chain.

Around 27,000 new large civil aeroplanes will be needed by 2030. Aerospace is a £24billion a year earner for the UK with a workforce of around 100,000, and the West Country is a major player

It is understood that, unusually, Mr Clegg will commit to resourcing the partnership for ten years, well beyond the lifetime of the coalition Government. Industry sources say that the total sum could eventually reach £1 billion.

The investment is on top of £120million committed to aerospace research when the partnership was launched at last year’s Farnborough International Airshow by Business Secretary Vince Cable. The money has already funded 500 post-grad degrees in aeronautical engineering and a Rolls-Royce project to develop low carbon engines.

Last October the Government announced that it had earmarked up to £46 million match-funding for Yeovil-based AgustaWestland via the Regional Growth Fund.

A Government report out last week said: “The UK’s current strength is the result of significant public and private investment in research and technology in the late last century.

“The UK aerospace industry is faced with increasing competition globally, not only from traditional aerospace manufacturing nations but also from developing aerospace nations,” it said.

The announcement will come just days after Airbus celebrated an £9 billion order for just under 120 A320 aircraft from Turkish Airlines, the largest ever placed by a Turkish carrier.

John Leahy, Airbus’ chief operating officer negotiated the deal. He said: “We are delighted with this new order from Turkish Airlines, which takes us above 2,000 orders in a little over two years after launch. This order confirms that the aircraft is the most cost effective and profitable solution for airlines with ambitious growth plans.”

Turkish Airlines already operates 75 A320 aircraft and the new order will help the airline expand their short to medium-haul routes from their Istanbul hub. In total, more than 9,150 A320 aircraft have been ordered and more than 5,450 delivered worldwide.

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