US company invests £16m at Co Down site to develop aircraft seats

Interim CEO, Invest Northern Ireland Mel Chittock, US Special Envoy to Northern Ireland for Economic Affairs Joe Kennedy III and Managing Director of Operations Collins Aerospace's Kilkeel facility Alan Henning
Interim CEO, Invest Northern Ireland Mel Chittock, US Special Envoy to Northern Ireland for Economic Affairs Joe Kennedy III and Managing Director of Operations Collins Aerospace's Kilkeel facility Alan Henning.

A US aerospace company has invested more than £16million at its site in Co Down to develop passenger seating products for wide-body and twin-aisle aircraft. The research and development investment by Collins Aerospace, an RTX business, was announced by Joe Kennedy III, US Special Envoy to Northern Ireland for Economic Affairs. Mr Kennedy visited the company’s Kilkeel premises while leading a senior US business delegation to Northern Ireland last year.

He 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.” Collins Aerospace employs more than 800 workers at its Kilkeel facility, which specialises in aircraft interiors. Alan Henning, managing director of operations for Collins Aerospace’s Kilkeel facility, said: “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.” The new investment has been supported by Invest Northern Ireland, the region’s business support agency. Its interim chief executive, Mel Chittock, said: “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.” Northern Ireland currently manufactures 30% of the global demand for aircraft seats.

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