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2 minute read - 25th January 2024

Collins Aerospace investing over £16m in R&D project

Collins Aerospace is investing over £16m in a new R&D project at its Kilkeel site in Northern Ireland. The investment is helping to develop and manufacture a new line of innovative and highly complex passenger seats for wide body aircraft.

Part of US company RTX, Collins Aerospace employs over 800 people at its Kilkeel facility, which specialises in aircraft interiors. Collins said its decision to invest in the R&D project at the Kilkeel facility reflects the confidence in its team to develop solutions that push the boundaries of comfort, durability and customisation, and in Northern Ireland’s advanced engineering capability.

Northern Ireland currently manufactures 30% of the global demand for aircraft seats and the industry is an important part of the region’s advanced manufacturing and engineering sector. The investment has been supported by Invest Northern Ireland, which has worked with Collins over many years providing a range of financial and advisory support.

Aircraft seating manufacturer Collins Aerospace is investing over £16m in an R&D project at its site in Northern Ireland / Picture: Collins Aerospace

Joe Kennedy III, the US special envoy to Northern Ireland for economic affairs, said: “Over the last 50 years in the global aviation seating market, RTX, through its Collins Aerospace business in Kilkeel, has contributed to Northern Ireland’s thriving aerospace sector. It was a pleasure to visit the company and see first-hand its research and innovation. This new investment will see it design and manufacture its new line of passenger seats which will help further its export growth ambitions. Following a US business delegation visit and having spoken with many top US executives, I am convinced that there is a real eagerness to explore what Northern Ireland has to offer. Companies like Collins Aerospace, that have a long history in Northern Ireland, are a testament to the benefits of investing here.”

Alan Henning, managing director of operations for Collins Aerospace’s Kilkeel facility, added: “As a renowned leader in the design and manufacture of interior aircraft solutions, Collins Aerospace is continually seeking to elevate levels of comfort for airline customers. This R&D investment aimed to create the most efficient production system for a new, innovative and highly complex aircraft seat that is far superior to anything else currently on the market. Our team in Kilkeel have a strong reputation for R&D and innovation excellence and were well positioned to undertake this challenging project.”

Mel Chittock, Invest NI’s interim CEO, concluded: “The decision to locate this significant R&D project in Collins Aerospace’s Kilkeel facility reflects the confidence that the company has in the team there and in Northern Ireland’s advanced engineering capability. Invest NI has supported the growth and development of the team over a number of years, providing assistance with skills improvement, research and development, and smart manufacturing approaches.”

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