Boeing to open first European factory at Catcliffe

Image source, Boeing
Image caption,
Artist's impression of what the new factory will look like

US firm Boeing has announced plans to open its first European commercial factory in South Yorkshire, creating at least 30 jobs.

If approved, the £20m plant will be built next to an existing research centre founded in 2001 by Boeing and the University of Sheffield.

The company said the factory, at Catcliffe in Rotherham, could also lead to new jobs in the supply industry.

The plant will manufacture hi-tech aircraft components.

President of Boeing Europe, Sir Michael Arthur, said they chose South Yorkshire for the factory because of a skilled workforce in the area and the firm's links with Sheffield's Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC).

He said: "The area has very high skills, particular in advanced manufacturing technology, which we think is world class."

"We, as a company, want to start making these very sophisticated components - actuation systems, the gearing systems on wings, and Sheffield is a good place to come," he added.

The factory, which will produce actuators for 737, 737 MAX and 777 aircraft, will be next to the AMRC centre.

Boeing said it would also increase its commitment to research at the site.

If planning permission is granted, the site could up and running by late-2018.

Image source, Google
Image caption,
The Advanced Manufacturing Park on the Rotherham-Sheffield border already has a Rolls Royce jet engine factory and a nuclear research centre

Analysis by James Vincent, BBC Look North correspondent

Thirty jobs might not seem a lot - but it means a great deal to the region.

Our coal and steel heritage means we've got companies with worldwide reputations already, and now others are looking to bag a South Yorkshire postcode.

The Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre was just an idea when Sheffield University went and knocked on Boeing's door 16 years ago. It led to a partnership that has completely regenerated former industrial land that's more used to being on television because of its controversial history. Orgreave's coking plant was the past, high-tech engineering is the future.

They've not said exactly where the factory will be built yet. Parts of the Advanced Manufacturing Park are in Rotherham, some is in Sheffield. But Boeing will pay their business rates to the Sheffield City Region.

Those 30 people will be making actuation components - the bits that move the wings - and the factory they will be built in will be very important for South Yorkshire.

The news comes shortly after luxury supercar manufacturer McLaren announced it is planning to build a £50m chassis factory on the site, creating 200 jobs.

Professor Keith Ridgway, of the AMRC, said the investment takes the region on from its coal and steel heritage to manufacturing high performance components for the automotive and aerospace sector.

Rolls Royce already has a jet engine factory on the site.

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