There was a special welcome in Belfast yesterday as a very special guest touched down at Bombardier on its firt official visit to the province.
Finance Minister Arlene Foster and Employment and Learning Minister Stephen Farry joined Bombardier management to greet the CS300 commercial aircraft making an appearance after its starring role at the Paris Air Show.
Speaking at the milestone event at Bombardier’s wing facility, where the plane’s wings are manufactured and assembled, Mrs Foster said: “This is a great day for Northern Ireland and I am privileged to have been involved with the C Series programme since its inception.
“From the Farnborough Air Show in 2008 when the CSeries was launched, to laying the foundation stone for this magnificent factory in 2009, and finally today at the end of this fabulous journey I am delighted to see the CS300 returned to Belfast.”
“The CSeries programme is vitally important to the Northern Ireland economy. The Northern Ireland Executive and UK Government are together investing almost £135 million in the form of Launch Investment and grants, which are supporting the establishment of this world-class facility.”
Locating the wing project in the province was, she said, a clear endorsement of the expertise and skill within the aerospace sector and underlined Northern Ireland’s “international reputation for excellence in aerospace”.
Both CSeries aircraft – the CS100 and CS300 - made their first joint public appearance at the Paris Air Show earlier in the week.
“This was an extremely proud moment for everyone involved in the project and also for all those businesses that support Bombardier’s supply chain in Northern Ireland and further afield,” added Mrs Foster congratulating the team in Northern Ireland and Bombardier sites across the world behind the project.
“Today we see a modern day image of aerospace technological capability that is truly world class; and that has been manifested through the development work undertaken here in Northern Ireland and now present in this magnificent aircraft.
“I look forward to seeing the aircraft being certified later this year and entry into service as soon as possible thereafter.”
Dr Farry said the event marked the latest chapter in a history of innovation and a dynamic, technology-led and growing aerospace industry.
“Development of this aircraft provides an opportunity for Northern Ireland to showcase its vital contribution to sustaining the UK aerospace’s position at the forefront of technology development,” he said.
“Through the continued roll out of Higher Level Apprenticeships in sector related fields and specifically through the development of a Foundation Degree in Aeronautical Engineering my Department is working in collaboration with industry and academia, to ensure the sector has the skills it needs to prosper.”