The first phase of construction of the 600,000 sq. ft. (55,742 m2) facility in Belfast that will house the manufacture and assembly of the advanced composite wings for the all-new CSeries commercial aircraft has been completed on schedule.
Bombardier's Belfast operation is responsible for the design, manufacture and integration of the advanced composite wings for the CSeries aircraft, including all flight control surfaces and high-lift systems.
The first phase of the new building incorporates a production area, a low contamination "clean room" area and an area for tool storage. The main equipment, including a fabric cutter, multiple-axis machine cell, pre-formers and autoclave, is currently being installed and commissioned in preparation for production of the CSeries aircraft wings, which is due to begin in 2011.
The facility, which is part of a £520 million investment by Bombardier in its Northern Ireland operation, is being built to meet high environmental standards. The building's layout and design are optimized for energy efficiency and minimal environmental impact. The facility will be a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) building, and a particular focus is being given to waste segregation and recycling. LEED is a third-party certification program and an internationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings.
"A year ago, we celebrated the start of construction of this brand new facility, and I am delighted that the first phase of this major investment – the largest ever in Northern Ireland – is now complete," said Michael Ryan, Vice President and General Manager, Bombardier Aerospace, Belfast. "We are also progressing with the composite wing development and test program as planned, and look forward to starting production of the CSeries aircraft wing early next year."
As part of the wing research and development program, Bombardier's Belfast operation has developed an innovative Resin Transfer Infusion (RTI) technology to manufacture the large one-piece wing skins and structural spars for the wing torque box. It has manufactured and assembled a pre-production demonstrator wing, which has been successfully tested to ultimate load, replicating 150 per cent of the most severe forces the wing is ever likely to experience in service.
Several local Northern Ireland companies have been engaged in the production of the demonstrator wing, in addition to the local firms involved in the design, construction and equipping of the new wing facility. Northern Ireland engineering and manufacturing companies will also have an opportunity to bid for work packages on the wing production in the coming months. Meanwhile, a delegation of small- and medium-sized engineering enterprises from Northern Ireland took part in business-to-business meetings in Washington this week with some of Bombardier's US suppliers. The event was hosted by Invest Northern Ireland.
"Not only is the CSeries aircraft wing program enabling us to further develop and build on our composites capabilities, it is also providing significant spin-offs and benefits to the wider economy," added Mr. Ryan.