The United Kingdom is a founding nation of the Airbus consortium and one of the company’s four home markets. Building on a proud 100-year British aviation heritage, every wing on Airbus commercial aircraft is designed and manufactured in the UK.
Employing a 15,000-strong workforce across more than 25 sites, Airbus is firmly rooted in the UK and its advanced technology industrial base stretching the length and breadth of the country from Aberdeen to Portsmouth.
Airbus is the largest commercial aerospace company in the UK and its biggest civil aerospace exporter; the biggest supplier of helicopters in the country; the UK’s largest space company and leading commercial provider of military satellite communications; the biggest supplier of large aircraft to the Royal Air Force; and a world leader in cyber security.
Each year Airbus spends in excess of £5 billion with UK suppliers. This UK supply chain comprises more than 4,000 companies, ranging from large primes such as Rolls-Royce and GKN to hundreds of small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) suppliers, each playing a vital role in helping Airbus deliver its world-leading products.
The sites at Filton and Broughton design, test and manufacture the wings for all Airbus commercial aircraft, directly sustaining around UK 10,000 jobs.
Broughton, home to more than 6,000 Airbus employees, has a proud tradition of aerospace manufacturing going back three-quarters of a century, having produced aviation classics such as De Havilland’s Comet and Mosquito. The site focuses primarily on manufacturing but also houses engineering and support functions such as procurement and finance. Airbus has invested more than £2 billion in the Broughton plant over the past 10 years. Core activities at Filton, where an additional 4,000 people work, are the design, engineering and support for Airbus wings, fuel systems and landing gear. Teams also work on aerodynamics research, development and test facilities.
More than 1,000 wings are produced every year at the Airbus site in Broughton.
Present in the UK for more than 40 years, Airbus’ helicopter activity is headquartered in Oxfordshire – Britain’s civil helicopter hub – from where the company provides the country’s premium rotary wing aircraft solutions. With sites in Aberdeen, Belfast, Hawarden and Oxford, Airbus provides helicopter design, manufacturing, support, maintenance and training to its customers. Airbus rotary wing aircraft make up the entirety of the country’s police helicopter fleet, 60% of the air ambulance fleet, and half of the country’s overall civil
helicopter fleet. Airbus is also an important helicopter supplier to the UK armed forces, with 100 of its rotorcraft in service with the Ministry of Defence. These include dedicated helicopters for operations across the globe – including the Puma 2, the workhorse of the RAF and one of the most successful defence helicopter programmes in the UK.
Airbus Helicopters also provides aircraft for the UK Ministry of Defence Military Flying Training System, meaning that for more than half a century, every helicopter pilot in the country has been trained on Airbus Helicopters platforms.
As the biggest supplier of large aircraft to the Royal Air Force, Airbus is responsible for the delivery (through the AirTanker partnership) of the service’s Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft, designated the A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport. A total of 14 A330 MRTTs will provide the Royal Air Force with 21st-century tanker and transport capability.
At Airbus’ Filton site, in addition to its work on commercial aircraft, the facility also is responsible for wing assembly and equipping the Airbus A400M multi-role airlifter. One of the A400M’s major operators is the Royal Air Force, which received its initial aircraft in 2014 – followed by a phase-in of 21 more on a schedule expected to be complete by 2019. At its site in Newport, south Wales, Airbus specialises in secure information services, cyber solutions and the security of critical infrastructure in the UK, serving as key partners in government and NATO-led information infrastructure programmes. The site also is home to a global centre of excellence in emergency response solutions and leads the world in simulations and virtual reality techniques for network-centric operations. One notable product, a powerful encryption device developed by Airbus named Ectocryp, has been dubbed ‘Enigma for the 21st century.’
As the largest space company in Europe and an integral part of the £13.7 billion UK space sector, Airbus designs and manufactures advanced satellites and systems for telecommunications, Earth observation, navigation and science programmes. Moreover, a significant percentage of TV programming for the country is broadcast by Airbus-built satellites.
Key efforts include leading the Solar Orbiter programme, the £250 million European Space Agency (ESA) mission to study the sun; the scientific mission LISA Pathfinder designed to test the concept of gravitational wave detection; and the Sentinel 5P, Aeolus, and BioMass Earth observation satellites.
Also of note is the ESA ExoMars rover mission, Europe’s first rover to another planet. Due for launch in 2020, it will search for life on the Red Planet.
A total of 4,000 people based in Portsmouth and Stevenage support the UK’s military satellite communications services to the country’s armed forces, including mobile voice, video, internet and broadcast communications. Delivered through the Skynet 5 constellation, these services also meet the needs of other military and government users, including NATO.
The space sector contributes £13.7 billion to the UK economy annually.
Airbus’ impact reaches all parts of the UK. It operates facilities in nine of the UK’s nations and regions, and makes purchases from more than 4,000 businesses throughout the country. The company is an active participant in numerous regional trade associations encouraging dialogue and partnerships with the small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) community.
Innovation is part of the company's DNA; Airbus spends £500 million a year in research and technology in the UK and has sustaining collaboration agreements with more than 20 universities across the country. Innovation drives technology, and technology is what makes Airbus global leaders in aerospace and defence.