Wales is an outstanding centre for aerospace, home to over 160 companies in the industry. In Wales, aerospace employs more than 23,000 people and has a turnover of more than £5 billion annually. Welsh aerospace uses state-of-the-art facilities to manufacture, maintain and overhaul civil and military aircraft from around the world.
Making room for aerospace
Following the decline of traditional industry in Wales, the Welsh Government and foreign investors alike recognised massive opportunities for aerospace in Wales. Global companies were quick to spot the abundance of skilled, low-cost labour, as well as Wales’ strong infrastructure, extensive development land and a ready supply of engineers, from steel to mining, who could be trained as aero engineers. Taking advantage of generous government grants designed to incentivise private investment, aerospace companies flocked to Wales.
Home to the high flyers
Aerospace in Wales is now a force to be reckoned with. Some of the biggest names operate here, including Babcock International, Defence Support Group (DSG), General Dynamics UK Ltd, NORDAM Europe Ltd, Hawker Beechcraft, Raytheon Systems Ltd and Hawker Beechcraft. British Airways, one of the biggest investors in Welsh aerospace, have three MRO facilities in Wales, and GE Aviation runs a one million square foot operation in Nantgarw, the largest maintenance centre in Europe.
With a third of the UK’s MRO activity taking place within 30 miles of Cardiff airport, south Wales has established itself as a hub of aerospace activity. But the presence of aerospace can be seen across Wales, from Qioptiq’s base in Denbighshire to the Airbus plant in Broughton, which employs over 7000 people and is the biggest aerospace manufacturing operation in the UK.
Not to mention the recent launch of a Wales-based aircraft company by Iron Maiden singer and commercial airline pilot Bruce Dickinson. Based in an enterprise zone in the Vale of Glamorgan, Cardiff Aviation Ltd will repair and overhaul aircraft up to the size of a Boeing 767. The business is predicted to create at least a thousand jobs in 18 months and has been enthusiastically endorsed by the Welsh Government.
With its fierce rise over the past two decades and no sign of yielding, aerospace is truly the dragon of the Welsh economy.