The future of Rolls-Royce’s civil aerospace division in Derby has been secured for the next 30 years as the company has decided that a £90 million engine test bed will be built in the city, instead of overseas.
At least 6,000 jobs will now be kept at the civil aerospace division at Sinfin, ending fears that Brexit and foreign public sector funding would see Rolls-Royce reject Derby.
The test bed – which will be used to help Rolls-Royce develop the next generation of engines, as well as test existing ones – is earmarked for land currently used as a car park in Wilmore Road, next to two other test beds.
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Trade union negotiators, who represent the company’s shop floor workers in Derby, were yesterday overjoyed at the decision. Alongside MPs, they had sought a commitment from Rolls-Royce for the next generation of engines to be built in Derby ever since 2014, when Dahlewitz, Germany, got the nod over Derby for a different test bed.
Not only is the latest test bed coming to Sinfin, nearby civil aerospace buildings will be upgraded to provide extra capacity, including the Maintenance Repair & Overhaul centre.
And the precision manufacturing facility in Wilmore Road, which houses 150 employees, will no longer close down as had previously been planned.
Furthermore, Rolls-Royce’s Nottinghamshire sites at Hucknall and Annesley will also benefit from tens of millions pounds worth of investment – including extra capacity and new machinery.
‘Thousands of Rolls-Royce jobs could have gone without new test bed’
The overall investment amounts to £150 million and will help sustain at least 7,000 jobs at Rolls-Royce’s sites in Derby, Hucknall and Annesley – of which 6,000 are at Sinfin.
A Rolls-Royce spokesman said it was the firm’s “largest investment in the UK for at least a decade”.
And Simon Hemmings, Unite’s chief staff negotiator for Rolls-Royce (Derby & Hucknall), described it as “the biggest deal” the union had ever reached with the engine maker.
“It’s a generational decision and it will secure the future of Rolls-Royce in Derby for a long time to come,” he said. “It’s the biggest thing we’ve ever done. This is great news that allows us to focus on the future rather than the past.”
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A planning application for the new test bed is due to be submitted to Derby City Council tomorrow (Friday).
Providing the scheme gets the green light, the new test bed should be built by the end of 2020, if not sooner.
Rolls-Royce said the investment will support the planned doubling of engine production and deliver on its £71.3 billion civil aerospace order book.
The new test bed will be capable of testing a range of engines including the Trent XWB, which powers the Airbus A350 XWB and is the world’s fastest selling civil large engine with over 1,600 on order from 45 customers in 31 countries.
Three new engines which are set to enter service shortly will also be tested at the facility. These are the Trent XWB-97, which will power the Airbus A350-1000; the Trent 1000 TEN, which will power all variants of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner family; and the Trent 7000 which will power the Airbus A330neo.
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And the next generation of engines that are in development – the Advance and Ultrafan jet engines – will also come to the new test bed.
Rolls-Royce’s civil aerospace president Eric Schulz said the life-span of a test bed was around 25 years, meaning the future of the Sinfin division will be secured for that length of time once it’s been built.
He said: “This investment comes at a time of unprecedented growth in Rolls-Royce. We are doubling the production of new engines at the same time as introducing three new engines to the market.
“With this investment, we are creating the capacity and flexibility to deliver on our goals, while committing to sustain employment in the UK and I would like to thank the unions for their support in delivering this important package of investment.”
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Source: Derby Telegraph