Wales has long been known for its Aerospace & Defence capability, with three of the current Enterprise Zones having airfields dating back to World War II.
Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO)
In the present day, Wales is a major centre for Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO); 10% of the UK’s activity is managed here.
GE Aviation is the world MRO base for the GE90 engine, used in the twin-engine wide-body Boeing 777, one of the most powerful engines certified for civil aircraft. In addition, GE handles the GP7000, which was developed by The Engine Alliance, a joint venture between GE and Pratt & Whitney. This powers the new Airbus A380 and the CFM56 family of engines – developed by CFM, which is the world’s most popular aircraft engine. The business occupies a workshop space of 1 million square feet and its customer base covers 90+ operators, stretching from China through Europe to the West Coast of USA and to Chile in Latin America.
Since 1938, St Athan has been a major centre for Aerospace and Defence and currently has several tenants, workshops, hangars, airspace and a newly surfaced runway. Civilian and Military projects work side by side, with works including Maintenance, Repair & Overhaul, Non-Destructive Testing and full-scale manufacturing.
The current Airbus Broughton site was founded a year later than St Athan, in 1939, as a shadow factory for the production of the Vickers Wellington and the Avro Lancaster. After the War, De Havilland took over the factory and it was used to produce various aircraft, including the Mosquito and the Comet. As well as Airbus, today the site is the home to Raytheon, and recent tenants include Hawker Beechcraft and Marshall Aerospace. DECA, the Defence Electronics and Components Agency is also located on the Enterprise Zone, and has successfully tendered for F-35 avionics maintenance.
At Valley, Anglesey, the current airfield was constructed in the latter part of 1940 and opened for operations in 1941 as an RAF Fighter Sector Station, providing defence cover for England’s industrial north-west and shipping in the Irish Sea. Valley is currently the home to RAF operations and MRO is carried out by BAE Systems and Babcock. There is a significant training activity for both rotary and fixed wing, and including Lockheed Martin providing simulator training on site.
British Airways is also committed to Welsh expertise, with three dedicated MRO facilities across a 50km radius in South Wales – British Airways Maintenance Cardiff, British Airways Interior Engineering and British Airways Avionic Engineering.
At St Athan Aerospace Business Park, part of the Cardiff Airport and St Athan Enterprise Zone, there are a number of smaller companies emerging. Among them is eCube Solutions LLP, specialising in end-of life aircraft projects. St Athan is also home to Cardiff Aviation, a fully approved and certified aviation maintenance, engineering, and technical service group.
With so much activity and opportunity, Wales’ MRO sector continues to grow in volume, as well as workforce expertise.