Aerospace and defence

Global leader in aerospace and defence technology

Northern Ireland is recognised for its commitment to developing world-class innovative technology for the aerospace, defence, security and space sectors. It has a vibrant and rapidly growing industry, founded on a strong engineering heritage and backed by robust research competence, collaboration, world-leading academic institutions, and integral manufacturing capabilities, skills and experience.

Airbus, Boeing, Embraer, BAE Systems, Spirit AeroSystems and GKN Aerospace are among the global OEMs and Tier One companies who benefit from working with Northern Ireland’s aerospace sector. International investors successfully operating in the region include Spirit AeroSystems, Singapore Aerospace Manufacturing, Raytheon Group, Magellan Aerospace, Thales, AVIC and RLC Group.

The Defence and Security sector is a growing industry with the Air Defence and short range missile capability at the heart of the industry and engineering companies involved in the F35, A400M military programmes.  We are also the home of the UK Centre for Secure Information Technology with a growing cluster of companies offering innovative cyber security solutions.

Find out more about Northern Ireland's cyber security sector

Find out more about Northern Ireland Aerospace

Find out more about Northern Ireland's emerging space sector

  • The sector provides revenues of GBP £1.5bn and employs an estimated c7,000 workers directly

  • 1 in 3 aircraft seats are manufactured in Northern Ireland

  • Every Airbus wing includes components manufactured in Northern Ireland

  • SC21 - NI Aerospace has 5 Gold, 8 Silver and 5 Bronze awards, with more Golds than any other UK region

Areas of expertise


Area of sector expertise

  • Seating
  • Interior composites
  • Upholstery
  • Galleys
  • Northern Ireland has a long established aircraft interiors cluster, responsible for around 50% of the UK interiors output  
  • Driven by continuous improvement, companies have participated on the SC21 Supply Chain 21st Century initiative.  Northern Ireland is seen as a leading competitive region with a high number of gold awards and the first gold award in aircraft interiors (IPC Mouldings)
  • 1 in 3 aircraft seats is manufactured in Northern Ireland


Area of sector expertise

  • Wings
  • Advanced metal forming
  • Fuselage
  • Vertical and horizontal stabilisers
  • Nacelles
  • Built on a strong historical legacy, Short Brothers Plc (acquired by Spirit AeroSystems in 2020) is the oldest aerospace company in the world  
  • One-third of the value of the A220 aircraft is designed and manufactured in Northern Ireland  
  • End to end design and manufacture of the complete A220 wing

Supply chain

Area of sector expertise

  • Northern Ireland offers a reliable, successful and competitive supply chain with expertise in key technologies including:
  • Design and stress
  • Precision engineering
  • Composites design and manufacture
  • Advanced metal forming
  • Tooling design and manufacture
  • Seating and interiors
  • Testing

Why Northern Ireland?

Supply chain excellence - SC21

Northern Ireland is an active participant in the SC21 (Supply Chains for the 21st Century ) programme - designed to accelerate the competitiveness of the aerospace and defence industry by raising the performance of its supply chains.

The region is home to five companies with the gold award – more than any other region in the UK:

  • Denroy Plastics
  • Industrial Precision Components
  • Moyola Precision
  • RTA Ireland
  • Technical Metals Ltd

Northern Ireland also has eight silver and five bronze awards.


Our companies hold a range of accreditations including:  

  • SC21 
  • AS9100 – Aerospace industry quality management system standard
  • ISO 9001 – Quality standard
  • ISO13485 – Medical device standard
  • NADCAP – Non-destructive testing standard
  • ITAR – US military standard

Key partnerships

Aerospace and Defence is seen as strategically important to Northern Ireland, there is continued ambition to grow with government and leverage regional and national programmes.

Invest NI partners with local and national government including Innovate UK, Aerospace Technology Institute and ADS.

Centres of excellence

We have a number of world-class centres of excellence undertaking industrially relevant research and channelling university expertise into the development of sophisticated products and processes.

Northern Ireland for foreign direct investment

Northern Ireland is an attractive place for investment in the aerospace and defence sector thanks to a combination of factors including skills availability, excellent infrastructure, cost-effectiveness and a supportive business environment. To find out more visit our Invest in Northern Ireland section.

Please get in touch.  You can find a team in your region or fill in an enquiry form and a member of the team will contact you directly.

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Get in touch

Connect with a member of our aerospace team via LinkedIn.

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