Boeing plans small U.K. factory, its first in Europe

Boeing said the facility in northern England will supply wing actuator components and will employ 30 when it opens.

Boeing plans to open its first ever European factory in Sheffield, northern England — delivering a vote of confidence in the U.K.’s manufacturing capabilities as the country prepares to exit the European Union.

The $25 million facility will supply parts for Boeing’s 737 short-haul workhorse and the 777 widebody, specializing in actuation systems that extend and retract an aircraft’s wing flaps in different phases of flight.

The move advances Boeing’s plans to increase in-house manufacturing of actuator components in order to boost production efficiency, enhance quality control and reduce supply-chain costs, the U.S. company said in a statement Friday.

The 25,000-square-foot plant will initially employ 30 people, with recruitment starting next year.

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“Our decision to start manufacturing high-value components in the U.K. is a step-change in our engagement and a further example of Boeing’s commitment to grow here,” Boeing Europe President Michael Arthur said in the release.

The Chicago-based company’s archrival Airbus Group SE focuses its entire wing-building operation on the U.K., with design and some manufacturing undertaken at Filton, near Bristol, where 4,000 people are employed, and wing assembly performed at Broughton, Wales, which has more than 6,000 workers.

While many British manufacturers, including automakers, face the threat of increased cross-border duties in the event of the U.K. leaving the EU customs union, aerospace companies are exempt under World Trade Organization rules.

There’s still concern that parts may be held up by more rigorous border checks and engineer shortages exacerbated as immigration controls tighten.

While Boeing employs 2,000 people in Britain, they’re all in nonmanufacturing roles spanning…

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