UK aircraft manufacturer Britten-Norman has plans to increase production rates and repatriate aircraft production to its historic home in Bembridge on the Isle of Wight.

The move is a major change for the UK-based company, which has been manufacturing its aircraft in Romania since the late 1960s.

Announced in 2010, the decision to switch focus back to UK manufacturing came due to rising costs in the eastern European country, according to the manufacturer.

Britten-Norman will invest in new jigs and tooling to create two additional production lines, as well as modernising production and decarbonising the site with new sustainable energy initiatives.

The investment is in preparation for intensified interest in the Britten-Norman BN-2 Islander twin-prop, following the planned launch of a zero-emission Islander aircraft in 2026.

The company also says that wider interest resulting from the introduction of finance and leasing options for the resurgent sub-regional aircraft market is driving demand.

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By GlobalData
The company’s forecasted production rate of the Islander model. Credit: Britten-Norman

“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” said Britten-Norman CEO William Hynett OBE.

In the coming months, the company will embark on a recruitment campaign, focusing on aircraft fitters and technicians, production engineering, and supply chain roles. The move back to the UK will also create new traineeship and apprenticeship opportunities on the Isle of Wight and in South Hampshire.

In addition to the ramp-up in production, the company says it will also be investing in its supply chain and spare parts stock holdings to support its existing operators.

Britten-Norman will retain its 34,000-square-foot stronghold at Solent Airport Daedalus, home of the final assembly line for the Islander aircraft.

The site also provides OEM aircraft refurbishment, EASA Part 145 MRO services, international field servicing, and specialist avionics and mission systems integration.