Collins Aerospace develops innovative range of aircraft seats following £16m investment in Kilkeel

Three men posing for a photo beside aircraft seats in a factory.
L-R: Mel Chittock, interim chief executive of Invest Northern Ireland; Joe Kennedy III, US Special Envoy to Northern Ireland; and Alan Henning, Collins Aerospace. (DARREN KIDD)

Collins Aerospace has developed a new generation of aircraft passenger seats following a £16 million investment programme at its Co Down base.

The US company, which employs around 800 people at its factory in Kilkeel, said the research and development (R&D) programme has helped produce a new range of seats for wide body and twin aisle aircraft.

Collins Aerospace is owned by the US-based RTX Corporation, formerly Raytheon Technologies.

It’s a key component of the north’s aerospace cluster, which is responsible for manufacturing 30% of the seating demanded by the global aviation industry.

Alan Henning, managing director of operations at the Kilkeel facility, said: “This R&D investment aimed to create the most efficient production system for a new, innovative and highly complex aircraft seat that is far superior to anything else currently on the market.

“Our team in Kilkeel have a strong reputation for R&D and innovation excellence and were well positioned to undertake this challenging project.”

The R&D investment has been supported by Invest NI, and part funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

The factory was recently visited by a senior US business delegation, led by the US Special Envoy to Northern Ireland, Joe Kennedy III.

Welcoming the development at the Kilkeel factory, Mr Kennedy said: “Over the last 50 years in the global aviation seating market, RTX, through its Collins Aerospace business in Kilkeel, has contributed to Northern Ireland’s thriving aerospace sector.

“It was a pleasure to visit the company and see first-hand its research and innovation. This new investment will see it design and manufacture its new line of passenger seats which will help further its export growth ambitions.

“Following a US business delegation visit and having spoken with many top US executives, I am convinced that there is a real eagerness to explore what Northern Ireland has to offer.

“Companies like Collins Aerospace, that have a long history in Northern Ireland, are a testament to the benefits of investing here.”