There was an early Christmas present for workers at Rolls-Royce on Friday.
Rolls-Royce celebrated the beginning of construction of its Wide Chord Fan Blades Facility extension, with a ground-breaking ceremony by Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson.
The new extension will support Rolls-Royce’s plans to double the production of new aero engines over the next few years.
The expanded facility will be able to manufacture 6,000 large Trent fan blades a year, almost twice its current capacity.
These titanium blades have a unique hollow structure and provide the majority of the thrust for Rolls-Royce’s Trent family of engines. Barnoldswick makes blades for engines including the Trent XWB, the world’s most efficient large civil aero engine.
Alongside the £28m extension to the fan blade facility, Rolls-Royce announced in November the creation of a Centre of Excellence in Structures and Transmissions in Barnoldswick.
Over £20m is being invested in new machinery and technology to support the new centre, which will manufacture complex structures such as front bearing and tail bearing housings which feature in all Rolls-Royce aero engines.
Mr Stephenson MP said: “The aerospace sector is vital to our local economy and Rolls-Royce is certainly the jewel in the crown. I think the Wide Chord Fan Blade facility expansion and the creation of a Structures Centre of Excellence in Barnoldswick is very good news, as the skills and dedication of the Rolls-Royce employees I have met has always hugely impressed me.
“I’d like to pay tribute to the Barnoldswick workforce for their hard work in securing this investment, which will provide a fantastic boost to the local economy.”
Rolls-Royce has invested more than £100m in the Barnoldswick site over the last three years as it modernises its facilities and increases production of engines for wide-body passenger aircraft.
As these engines take to the skies over the coming years, Rolls-Royce’s share of the global market for large passenger aircraft will increase to more than 50$% for the first time.
Manufacturing Executive Steve Kitson added: “We are delighted to begin construction on the £28m extension to our Wide Chord Fan Blade facility.
“This will increase capacity to manufacture fan blades for Trent civil aero engines including the Trent XWB, the world’s most efficient large aero engine and the fastest-selling wide-body engine in history.
“In addition, the creation of a first Centre of Excellence in Structures and Transmissions on the site means in total we are investing £50m in Barnoldswick.
“This investment recognises the dedication and flexibility of the Barnoldswick workforce and also demonstrates our commitment to innovative technology and world-class facilities which will improve performance and drive profitable growth for our business.”
In total, around 18,000 fan blades – including large Trent fan blades – are currently manufactured every year at Rolls-Royce in Barnoldswick.