UK aircraft manufacturer Britten-Norman has revealed plans to increase production rates and to repatriate aircraft production to its historic home in Bembridge on the Isle of Wight.
New manufacturing jigs are in place at Britten-Norman's Bembridge facility in preparation for production output increase.
The move is a major change for the British SME which has been manufacturing its aircraft in Eastern Europe since the late 1960s.
Britten-Norman will invest in new jigs and tooling to create two additional production lines as well as modernising production and decarbonising the site with new sustainable energy initiatives.
The investment is in preparation for intensified interest in the Islander following the planned launch of an OEM, zero-emissions Islander aircraft in 2026 as well as wider interest that has resulted from the introduction of finance and leasing options for the resurgent sub regional aircraft market.
Forecasted production ramp up.
In the coming months the Company will be embarking on a recruitment campaign, further boosting job creation in the UK’s Solent Local Enterprise Partnership area. The focus will include aircraft fitters and technicians, production engineering and supply chain roles. The expansion will also create new traineeship and apprenticeship opportunities on the Isle of Wight and in South Hampshire.
In addition to the ramp up in production, the company will be investing in its supply chain and spare parts stock holdings to support its existing operators.
“The project is a great success story for the British aircraft manufacturing industry. I am very proud to be involved in this next chapter at Britten-Norman” commented Chief Executive, William Hynett OBE.
Britten-Norman will retain its 34,000sq ft. stronghold at Solent Airport Daedalus, home of the final assembly line for the Islander. The site also provides OEM aircraft refurbishment, EASA Part 145 MRO services, international field servicing and specialist avionics and mission systems integration. As a Garmin-approved dealer, the company offers services to the wider General Aviation community.
Britten-Norman is a world-leading sub-regional aircraft manufacturer specialising in twin-engine piston and turboprop STOL aircraft. The company is a UK-based SME, exporting 97% of circa 1,300 aircraft manufactured to date.
Britten-Norman is proud to play an integral part in the Solent area. Since 2010, the manufacturer has invested more than £30m in the local community and thus far created over 150+ skilled opportunities in Bembridge, Lee-on-the-Solent and Southampton.
In April 2023, the company signed Heads of Terms with Cranfield Aerospace Solutions for a merger. A consortium of CAeS investors comprising HydrogenOne, Safran Corporate Ventures (the corporate venture arm of Safran, a leading aerospace company), and the UAE-based investment firm Strategic Development Fund (SDF) will invest up to £10 million in the new company, including up to £5 million investment from HydrogenOne once the merger is finalised. Cranfield University and Motus Ventures will continue to retain shares in the new business. Britten-Norman’s existing owners, including lead investor Alawi Zawawi, will also join the new business. The investment will anchor further funding that is currently being raised to support the growth of the merged entity.