UK aircraft manufacturer Britten-Norman has announced plans to repatriate aircraft production to its historic home in Bembridge on the Isle of Wight.
The surprise move – which also incorporates a planned production rate boost – marks a major change for the company, which has been manufacturing its aircraft in Eastern Europe since the late 1960s.
The firm will invest in new jigs and tooling to create two additional production lines, modernise production, and decarbonise the site with new sustainable energy initiatives. Britten-Norman says this investment is in preparation for increased interest in the Islander following the planned launch of an OEM zero-emission variant in 2026 and wider interest that has resulted from the recent introduction of finance and leasing options for the resurgent sub-regional aircraft market.
In the coming months, Britten-Norman will embark on a recruitment campaign to further boost job creation. The focus will include aircraft fitters and technicians, production engineering, and supply chain roles. The expansion will also create new traineeship and apprenticeship opportunities on the Isle of Wight and in South Hampshire.
In addition to ramping up production, the company will invest in its supply chain and spare parts stock holdings to support existing operators.
William Hynett, chief executive of the airframer, said: “The project is a great success story for the British aircraft manufacturing industry. I am very proud to be involved in this next chapter at Britten-Norman.”
Britten-Norman will retain its 34,000sq ft stronghold at Solent Airport Daedalus, home of the final assembly line for the Islander. The site also provides OEM aircraft refurbishment, EASA Part 145 MRO services, international field servicing, and specialist avionics and mission systems integration. As a Garmin-approved dealer, the company offers services to the wider general aviation community.