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Boeing opens its first European factory right here in Sheffield

Sheffield was put on the global manufacturing map when the world largest aircraft company opened a parts manufacturing factory in Sheffield - their first not only in the UK and also in Europe.

Sir Michael Arthur, president of Boeing Europe, said this is something that Sheffield should be proud of, as he officially opened the £40m 6,200-square-metre facility in Sheffield Business Park.

The factory will be manufacturing parts for the B-737 and B-767 aircraft which will be shipped for assembly in Boeing’s Portland plant in Oregon, United States.

Sir Arthur said that the B-737 was the most successful aircraft in the world with a flight landing or taking off every three seconds. This factory will eventually be manufacturing 140 parts for the B-737.

"I am genuinely proud ... this is a success story," he told an audience of more than 250 people which included Leader of Sheffield City Council Julie Dore.

She said that the city council was committed to strengthening such partnerships to ensure it does what is needed to help especially where they create the high skill high wage manufacturing jobs in the numbers that will provide a strong base for our economy.

"One of our top priorities is to provide the opportunities for young people in Sheffield. That’s why it is so welcome not only to see such globally renowned brand like Boeing here but their commitment to local apprentices who will make up much of the workforce and the opportunities they are offering for our young people to work for global engineering giants."

A total of 52 employees make up the current Boeing Sheffield team, including experienced mechanics, engineers and more than 20 apprentices. Among the apprentices is Henry Purshouse who, like William Boeing who founded the company in 1916, dropped out of school.

Henry Purshouse
Local Sheffield machinist apprentice Henry Purshouse

"In my wildest dreams, I never thought that I would be working at Boeing. I always knew that I would do something in engineering because it was always something that I was interested in but to have an opportunity to work for a company like Boeing is surreal. My friends at home are jealous. They're still at school which I am getting an education while earning money."

His colleague Lydia Fenton says her friends find her job really cool because she is making parts for planes they will be flying on.

Lydia Fenton
Boeing Sheffield engineering apprentice Lydia Fenton

"It is a really great opportunity and so far an amazing experience. I've been here 15 months. I came into this apprenticeship not knowing anything about engineering. I did physics and maths at A Levels but I have no engineering background at all. So now to be able to run a WFL Millturn is really good and the training is really amazing."

Mayor of Sheffield City Region, Dan Jarvis, described this as another chapter in the city of innovation adding that the region can deliver what it takes to support such global manufacturing companies, things such as the technical, infrastructural and transport facilities for people and freight.

"Boeing Sheffield will also be a key part of our region’s 'Global Innovation Corridor', creating a connected set of research and business interactions based on the advanced manufacturing and engineering strengths we have here in the region, and linking people, places and ideas. The opportunities for our communities, for businesses, for researchers and for the workforce of the future are limitless.

"The opening of this new facility is hugely significant for South Yorkshire, the wider Northern Powerhouse, and indeed for the UK."

"Our region's best days are ahead of us," he told the audience.

Jenette Ramos, Boeing senior vice president of Manufacturing, Supply Chain and Operations was high of praise for the welcome to Sheffield and assistance they received to make this factory a reality.

"We appreciate all the community support for Boeing’s new advanced manufacturing factory in the UK.  This is a fabulous example of how we are engaging global talent to provide greater value to our customers. In Boeing Sheffield, we are building on longstanding relationships and the region’s manufacturing expertise to enhance our production system and continue to connect, protect, explore and inspire aerospace innovation."

Boeing Sheffield manufactures more than 100 different high-tech actuation components for the 737 and 767 wing trailing edge. Actuation systems move the flaps at the back of the wing to provide extra lift at low speeds during takeoff and landing.

Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Greg Clark said: "Boeing choosing the heart of South Yorkshire as its first European home is testament to our capabilities, talent pool and strong manufacturing supply chains which are vital to job creation and creating value for local economies.

"We are leading the world in UK aerospace manufacturing and through our modern Industrial Strategy, we, along with industry have committed to invest £3.9 billion in aerospace."

Council and Boeing officials
BOEING SHEFFIELD OFFICIAL OPENING: (L-R): Chief Executive of Sheffield City Council John Mothersole, Senior Vice President Manufacturing, Supply chain & Operations of Boeing Jenette Ramos, Leader of the Council Julie Dore and Cabinet Member of Business and Investment Mazher Iqbal

The company presented awards to 13 UK-based suppliers who have partnered with Boeing on this significant expansion in the UK. Amongst the suppliers, Aeromet International Ltd, a Worcester-based supplier of advanced aluminium and magnesium cast parts will provide Boeing Sheffield with high-strength, complex and multi-core aluminium cast parts. In addition,  Maher Ltd, a first-time supplier to Boeing, will supply bespoke steel bar and pre-machined components made of UK-sourced steel from Liberty Speciality Steels, located three miles from the new Boeing factory.

Also recognised was MetLase Ltd, a first-time supplier to Boeing, which is based at the Advanced Manufacturing Park Technology Centre in Rotherham and which is Boeing Sheffield’s tooling and fixturing partner.  Mettis Aerospace Ltd, a designer and manufacturer of precision forged and machined components from Redditch, will supply Boeing Sheffield with steel alloy precision-forged components. The other partners are AMRC Training Centre, D5 Architects, JF Finnegan, Mills CNC, Mitutoyo, Mott MacDonald, Nikken, Starrag and WFL.

Boeing established a presence in South Yorkshire in 2001 when the company co-founded the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) with the University of Sheffield in Rotherham. Boeing Sheffield is a direct result of this longstanding and successful relationship with the AMRC and its world-class research and development. The company has initiated a major new research programme with the AMRC to develop new manufacturing techniques that can be applied to the new Boeing Sheffield facility.