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Britten-Norman launches Lee-on-Solent facility

Following two years of discussions with the various stakeholders at Lee-on-Solent, Britten-Norman is pleased to announce the launch of two new facilities at the former military aerodrome, also referred to as Daedalus Airfield. In addition to securing agreement from the land-owner, SEEDA, the company also required agreement from the owner of the runway to allow access to its aircraft.

This move marks a significant change for Britten-Norman, which has been manufacturing aircraft for more than 45 years and has, since 1968, outsourced the manufacturing of its sub assemblies to an Eastern European sub contractor. Enlargement of the EU, and the associated rising costs of manufacture, has reduced the benefits of this offshore facility, causing the company to rethink its production strategy. Against the common trend, the company has chosen to bring the manufacturing of its Defender product line back onshore with the aim of allowing for product improvements and a streamlining of the manufacturing process, thus reducing its cost base.

David White, Britten-Norman Aircraft's Production Director said: "In addition to providing greater business resilience, the additional site will allow scope to increase capacity and, through the restructuring of manufacturing, will promote better value for money for our customers through the introduction of best practice."

Simultaneously, Britten-Norman has entered multi year deals with some of its key customers, including those within UK Government, to provide an integrated depth maintenance facility that will initially focus primarily on the Defender aircraft. The Company is making a significant investment into the new site, which includes the introduction of 'lean' procedures.

William Hynett, Britten-Norman's Chief Executive, commented: "The facility at Daedalus is an exciting new development for the Company in its transition from its manufacturing core into a more holistic, multi-site aerospace services led business. The company sees Lee-on-Solent as a great opportunity to combine its own aspirations for growth with a strong desire to take a leading role in the regeneration of the airfield as an aerospace centre of excellence. We shall be starting that process right away with the introduction of more than 60 new skilled and semi-skilled positions on site."

Newly elected MP for Gosport & Lee on the Solent, Caroline Dinenage welcomed Britten-Norman's investment at Daedalus, she said; "Having long called for the Daedalus site to be used to generate the jobs and training opportunities that this area so desperately needs, I see the presence of Britten-Norman here as really good news. It is particularly encouraging during these tough economic times to see business repatriated to the UK from Eastern Europe."

Britten-Norman will continue to manufacture and maintain the popular Islander aircraft from its Bembridge headquarters, on the Isle of Wight and will focus its Lee-on-Solent operation on the manufacturing and maintenance of the Defender. The Group's Technical and Design capabilities will remain in Southampton and its logistics operations will be centred on its warehouse near London's Heathrow airport.

Press release issued by Britten-Norman on May 25, 2010


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Britten-Norman Airframer


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BNG BN2T-4S Defender

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