Shorts expands again after Fokker setback

Aerospace company aims to recruit 1,000 people in five years

Shorts Aerospace this week said it will recruit up to 1,000 people over the next four to five years, boosting its 5,200-strong workforce and making up for 900 jobs lost because of the Fokker bankruptcy.

`All programmes are increasing production rates,’ a Shorts spokeman said. The company has recruited just over 200 shopfloor workers and engineers in the past few months.

Belfast-based Shorts is still looking for engineers, though a recruitment consultant believes The company may have lost 40-60 engineers to Boeing last year. `Shorts may have problems recruiting engineers from the mainland,’ he said.

This week’s £370m order for 30 more Canadair Regional Jets from ComAir of Cincinatti will help Shorts to sustain production.

Shorts supplies 20-25% of each Regional Jet airframe. This comprises the 9.75m fuselage, two engine nacelles and wing-mounted control surfaces.

Programmes which are increasing include work on the engine nacelle, main landing gear doors and wing-mounted flight components for the Dash 8-400 airliner.

A new programme which starts later this year will be the CRJ 700, a development of the Regional Jet. Shorts will build the 14.32m centre and forward fuselage and the engine nacelles. The 1,000 new jobs will be concentrated on the Dash 8 and CRJ 700 programmes.

The expansion in Shorts’ workload will lead to the relocation of its Learjet, Bombardier Global Express and Regional Jet assembly lines from the separate building where work now takes place, to the main factory in the next few months.

These lines will be joined by the CRJ 700 work and airframe production for 67 British Army Apache attack helicopters.

Shorts, which built all the wings for Fokker jet airliners, lost 17% of its business because of the bankruptcy, leading to 900 layoffs.

By George Paloczi-Horvath