Nick Clegg announced a new £45m project to ensure North East employer Rolls-Royce leads the way in low carbon technology as he officially opened a new factory in Tyne and Wear.
The facility in Washington will make more than 2,500 fan and turbine discs a year – essential parts of a plane’s engine, which will power aircraft made by Airbus, Boeing, and Bombardier.
It will also make discs for the world’s fastest-selling and most efficient civil aircraft engine, the Trent XWB, which goes into Airbus’ A350 XWB.
And the new factory will safeguard hundreds of highly-skilled manufacturing jobs in the region.
Mr Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, was accompanied by Business Secretary Vince Cable as he met factory staff.
And the pair announced £45m joint Government and industry funding for research led by Rolls-Royce to develop new technology for low-carbon aircraft engines.
Mr Clegg said: “We should be really proud that the UK is the number one aerospace industry in Europe and a world leader in innovation.
“The highly skilled workers at the new Rolls-Royce factory are leading the charge for innovative technologies that are made in Britain. And the Government’s investment of £45m alongside industry will help to ensure the UK continues to build and design the planes of the future.
“I am working hard in the Coalition to ensure that aerospace continues to boost growth in the North East and across the country, building a stronger economy and doing it fairly.”
Dr Cable added: “The UK is at the forefront of the global aerospace industry, and investments such as this new factory from Rolls-Royce will help to keep us there. The projects that we are funding through our aerospace industrial strategy will ensure that Britain develops the efficient and environmentally friendly aircraft of the future, while keeping highly-skilled manufacturing jobs here in Britain.”
The £45m funding will be used for research and development to reduce carbon emissions by using lightweight composite materials to make Rolls-Royce engines. Research will also focus on changing parts of the engine design to make engines more efficient and reducing the time it takes to manufacture them.
It will involve top scientists and engineers across the country including the University of Birmingham, the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre in Sheffield, the Advanced Forming Research Centre in Glasgow, the Manufacturing Technology Centre in Coventry, and the Universities of Nottingham, Oxford and Sheffield.
The UK has the largest aerospace industry in Europe, second only to the United States globally. Aerospace contributes £24bn to the economy every year, with hundreds of smaller businesses involved in supplying high-profile firms such as Rolls-Royce, and supports 230,000 jobs across the country.