Shorts is forecasting a 38% rise in sales this year, with continued growth next year driven by sales of Global Express the long range business jet developed by the Belfast firm’s parent company, Bombardier.
Shorts makes 25% of the new jet, and at full production Global Express will secure at least 700 jobs in Belfast and a further 300 elsewhere in the UK. Firm orders now amount to 80.
‘It is very big for us,’ said Alec McRitchie, Shorts’ director of communications. ‘It is pitched at the ultra-long-range business market. We hope to take 50% of that market.’
Some 60 other UK companies are involved, including Lucas Aerospace, Messier-Dowty, and BMW Rolls-Royce, which is supplying the BR710 turbofan engines.
As Bombardier’s centre of excellence for the design and manufacture of composite structures, Shorts is responsible for the aircraft’s all-composite horizontal stabiliser, one of the largest such structures designed for a commercial aircraft.
It also designed and manufactures the forward fuselage and passenger doors, the nose and main landing gear doors, and engine nacelles.
Acquired by Bombardier of Canada in 1989, Shorts saw a dramatic turnaround, turning a £47m loss on sales of £200m into profit on sales now at £420m. Investment in Shorts following the takeover is now £800m.
Shorts is Northern Ireland’s biggest private sector employer, with 6,500 staff.