British aircraft manufacturer Britten-Norman has officially embarked on UK production of the Islander, a world-leading sub-regional aircraft.
This momentous decision marks a significant shift, with manufacturing returning to the UK from overseas locations.
A Long-Awaited Return
The decision to bring production back to the UK is the result of years of strategic planning by Britten-Norman. In June, the company announced its intention to fully repatriate new aircraft production to its flagship manufacturing site in Bembridge, located on the picturesque Isle of Wight.
This marks the first time the iconic Islander aircraft will be built in the UK since production was moved to Eastern Europe in the late 1960s.
The inaugural UK-produced Islander is set to be completed in May 2024.
Commitment to British Manufacturing
On Thursday, September 21st, a ribbon-cutting ceremony took place at the Bembridge manufacturing facility to officially open the new production line.
The event was graced by the presence of Bob Seely, Member of Parliament for the Isle of Wight, underlining the significance of this milestone.
Britten-Norman’s decision to repatriate production is a testament to its commitment to British manufacturing and a dedication to fostering innovation within the aerospace sector.
Beyond strengthening its position as the world’s leading sub-regional aircraft manufacturer, this move is expected to contribute to the growth and development of the British aerospace industry.
A Homecoming for Britten-Norman
The Bembridge manufacturing site has been at the core of Britten-Norman’s operations since its inception. This repatriation represents a heartfelt homecoming for the company, emphasizing a renewed focus on British craftsmanship and engineering.
By shifting production back to the UK, Britten-Norman aims to enhance its production capabilities, streamline supply chain operations, and accelerate innovation in aircraft design and manufacturing.
The company has set ambitious goals for the future, with plans to increase new aircraft production fourfold by 2027, accompanied by strong economic performance and revenue growth projections.
This expansion is expected to create numerous job opportunities, bolstering economic prosperity on the Isle of Wight and the broader Solent area.
As part of its growth strategy, Britten-Norman has initiated a recruitment campaign, creating employment opportunities in the UK’s Solent Local Enterprise Partnership area.
These roles span various areas, including aircraft fitters, technicians, production engineering, and supply chain management.
Moreover, the expansion will open doors to new traineeships and apprenticeships on the Isle of Wight and in South Hampshire.
Britten-Norman CEO Perspective
William Hynett, Chief Executive of Britten-Norman, expressed his pride for this pivotal moment: “We are immensely proud to bring production back to the UK, where our manufacturing story began nearly seven decades ago.”
“This move underlines our dedication to the highest standards of quality, innovation, and the resurgence of British aerospace manufacturing. We look forward to a bright future as we continue to build world-class aircraft right here in the UK.”
Isle of Wight MP Bob Seely also shared his excitement: “The Islander’s return to the Isle of Wight is an important and exciting day.”
“I am delighted that Britten-Norman has made the decision to bring back the production line of their iconic plane to where it was first built, on the Isle of Wight.”
“It’s a major vote of confidence in the future of the Island and a significant investment for our skilled manufacturing base.”
The repatriation of production to Bembridge signifies a new chapter in Britten-Norman’s storied history. It promises exciting developments and opportunities for both the company and the UK aerospace sector.
As the iconic Islander takes flight once again from British soil, it symbolizes the resurgence of British aircraft manufacturing on the global stage.
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