23 May 2017

Rapport – Fact finding Aerospace mission – Bristol, UK 2017

NAG Fact Finding Mission to the West of England

The West of England has most of the western world’s (and a number of others) OEM’s located in the region. As well as key manufacturing facilities at Airbus, GKN Aerospace, Rolls-Royce, Leonardo and GE (to name but a few) a number of companies also base themselves in Bristol close to the Ministry of Defense (MoD). The MoD has its procurement organisation in Bristol, employing over 9,000 people.

The NAG Fact finding Mission to the West of England – or more specifically Bristol – was an intense two day visit which only scratched the surface of aerospace companies based in the region. The Mission included visits and meetings with:

• GKN Aerospace
• Business to Business (B2B) Meetings with members from the West of England Aerospace Forum (WEAF)
• The National Composites Centre (NCC)
• Discussions with SME’s based in the Bristol and Bath Science Park (BBSP)

GKN Aerospace
GKN, Filton is a key supplier of airframe and wing assemblies to Airbus. The company was very open to describing its level of external/ supply chain spend and its supply chain – recognising that SME’s may be better placed trying to do business with GKN’s suppliers.
GKN organised one-to-one sessions between its relevant supply chain specialists and NAG members – which was well appreciated by the mission participants.
NAG has visited the GKN machine shop and its 3DP facility before heading off to downtown Bristol. Hopefully on a future NAG Mission a visit to the GKN composites facility, which is based close to Bristol, can be added to the next program.

B2B Meetings with West of England Aerospace Forum (WEAF)
WEAF has over 300 members, who range in size from Airbus, Rolls-Royce to one person companies. The B2B event was an opportunity to understand more about the challenges facing UK SME’s. For more info about WEAF visit their website: http://www.weaf.co.uk/our-members/
This network event was hosted by Osborne Clarke, whose meeting rooms gave brilliant views across the city of Bristol. The network reception was organised as well with the kind support of the NBSO Manchester and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in London, who were represented at the event.
It was great that Adriaan Leyte (NAG Board Member and Vice President Business Development Civil at Fokker Technologies) opened the event. He suggested hosting something similar at Fokker in the very near future, and WEAF is keen to send a delegation to the Netherlands.
There was a lot of information exchanged during the B2B meetings and a number of connections were made. Again, we hope that NAG members learnt a great deal from their counterparts at WEAF.

The National Composites Centre (NCC)
The NCC is one of the seven “Catapult” centres in the UK. Owned by Bristol Univeristy (one of the top Universities after Oxford and Cambridge) the NCC is funded by regional, national government, EU and commercially.
The catapults “bring the best of the UK’s innovative businesses and researchers together to bring new products and services more quickly to commercialisation” with a focus on TRL 4 to TRL 6.
Tier 1 members of the NCC include GKN Aeropsace, Rolls-Royce, Airbus, GE and Leonardo. The NCC is taking part in Clean Sky 2.
There could be opportunities for NAG and its members to collaborate with the NCC. The NCC is working with the TPRC, Netherlands.

When NAG will plan the next mission, there is a suggestion to visit another Catapult Centre – the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre – which has Boeing and Rolls-Royce as partners.

Discussion with SME’s
Before going to Bristol Airport, there was a short B2B event with a number of SME’s based at Bristol and Bath Science Park (https://www.bbsp.co.uk/).  One of NAG members mentioned “ I’ve got three new leads in just 60 minutes!” …always good to hear!

NB: NAG team is working on 2 other short missions to UK – one right after the Paris Airshow 2017, which will include visit to Marshall UK and Boeing, and second one after the summer with an accent on the Airport Development and Infrastructure business leads.

If you have ambitions towards the UK market, and you have missed by any reasons this NAG Fact Finding visit please contact the NAG office (Frank Jansen – mission leader and Diana Nikolova: https://nag.aero/nag/team/) and / or NAG UK representative – Mr. Martin Farmer: https://nag.aero/nag/international-representatives/.