THE HEAD of Airbus' Broughton plant has revealed plans for the use of the west factory after the A380 production was discontinued.

Speaking to The Leader, Jerome Blandin, head of plant, said that the west factory will be used to produce wings for single-aisle aircrafts to meet growing demand.

"The demand post-Covid for our wings has been really strong," he said.

"We've seen that since Covid we are receiving higher numbers of orders on our single-aisle aircraft. That's why we are converting the west factory into a single-aisle line to deliver on a rate increase of producing 75 aircraft a month by the middle of the decade."

The Leader: Jerome Blandin, head of plant, Airbus BroughtonJerome Blandin, head of plant, Airbus Broughton

Airbus' Broughton plant creates 90 per cent of the wings for Airbus aircraft, and employs over 4,000 people.

"It's a really exciting prospect for us," Mr Blandin said.

"There will be more employment opportunities as we're going to be looking at a lot recruitment to deliver this volume of aircraft."

Talking about the impact of Brexit on Airbus in the UK, Mr Blandin said: "We took a lot of time to prepare for it, it was two years in the making and we made contingency plans to protect the movement of goods.

"Aircrafts clearly require a lot of parts, and our preparations were really important to ensure that we didn't see any disruption. Now, it's part of a normal way of working for us and while it wasn't our preferred option at the time, it's behind us now and we've moved on."

The Leader: XL4 first time at BroughtonXL4 first time at Broughton

Looking ahead to what the future holds for the Broughton plant, Mr Blandin said: "We're doing a lot of work in researching technology at the AMRC (Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre). Our priorities on site are always ensuring we can deliver to our customers the best possible product.

"We are also very much focused on the next generation of aircraft, looking at developing much more fuel efficient aircraft, the way wings are designed - the shape of the wings can develop up to 30 per cent efficiency. We are looking at three tests wings in the AMRC. We are looking at the technology in terms of the design of the wing, but also at the industrial processes to ensure that when we go to market we've got not only the best product, but the best industrial system."

Mr Blandin also spoke about how Airbus is looking to reduce its carbon footprint.

"When we fly the product (aircraft), that's one source of CO2 emission - and the other is what we do here on site at Broughton - our operational footprint.

"In terms of the aircraft, we are researching a lot at AMRC on what our future generations of aircraft look like. The initial step is focusing on sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and we're looking to have a net zero approach by 2050.

The Leader: IndiGoIndiGo

"The first step is very much around SAF and ensuring that our aircraft are able to travel with 100 per cent SAF. The next step is looking at our future aircraft. At Airbus, we believe hydrogen is one of the most promising decarbonisation technologies for aviation. This is why we consider hydrogen to be an important technology pathway to achieve our ambition of bringing a low-carbon commercial aircraft to market by 2035."

He continued: "At the plant, we're looking to reduce our CO2 emissions by 85 per cent by 2030. We've got a team dedicated to achieving this."


Finally, Mr Blandin touched on the apprenticeship programme at the plant.

"We've always seen our early careers programme as a cornerstone of how we want to grow our workforce. If you go back to the pandemic, we didn't stop the programme because we knew it was still something that was essential to us to grow and nurture our internal talent.

The Leader: FactoryFactory

"It's telling where you put your money during difficult times, and our commitment to early careers during Covid shows that it's something of essential importance to us.

"Going forward, it will be a key part of our growth and rate increase of wings made. We have around 450 apprentices on site in Broughton, and we have just under 300 new starters in 2023."

He added: "A lot of our senior managers have been through those programmes - which shows that it's valuable and that it works. A lot of our apprentices are coming from the local community, and that's something which is very important to us. Whilst we are a global player, being able to support people from the community into work is fantastic. The level of support we are getting from schools and colleges is brilliant."