Work by plane manufacturer Airbus to encourage more girls to choose engineering as a career has been welcomed by Assembly Member Antoinette Sandbach AM.
The company, which employs 6,500 people at its Broughton base, and supports a further 2,000 jobs in the area, has a target of recruiting 25% women workers, Ms Sandbach was told on a visit to the company.
“The new batch of apprentices is due to start work shortly and I was pleased to hear that 15% of Airbus’ latest undergraduate in-take is female,” said Ms Sandbach, North Wales AM.
“It is very important that girls at school are encouraged to consider engineering as a career option and I know Airbus is committed to working with local schools to highlight the benefits to studying science-related subjects.
“As a parent, and a school governor, it is worrying that not enough girls are taking physics to A level standard, or other science subjects that will enable them to consider engineering as an option.
“Teenage girls need encouragement and guidance at a crucial time, when they are choosing their GCSE options, to consider what they need to study to enable them to work for a company such as Airbus.
“It is pleasing to hear that Airbus has a full order book for the years ahead and it is a great example of a successful North Wales company and European partnership.
“Earlier this year I flew to Singapore to represent the Welsh Assembly and I was proud to travel there on an Airbus A380.”
Ms Sandbach was taken on a tour of the £400m A350 XWB wing factory, which she previously visited when it was opened by Prime Minister David Cameron.
Manufacturing manager Peter Grimes showed Ms Sandbach the new jigs where the composite wings are constructed, before they are flown, inside the Beluga transport aircraft, to the Airbus base in Bremen, Germany, for equipping and then moved to Toulouse, France, for final assembly.
The fuel-efficient A350 XWB had its first test flight at the Paris Air Show in spring and commercial flights are expected to begin next year.
More than 600 of the planes have been ordered by 33 customers around the world, in Africa, Asia, Europe and America.
The latest order, by SriLankan Airlines in July, for four A350 XWB plus six A330s to replace its long-haul fleet, takes Airbus’ order book through to 2019.
The A350 XWB is Airbus’ all-new mid-size long range product line comprising three versions and seating between 270 and 350 passengers in spacious three-class layouts.
The new family will bring a step change in efficiency using 25% less fuel and providing an equivalent reduction in CO2 emissions.
More than half of the wing is made from high-strength, lightweight composite materials, which has brought a new skill to the workforce in Broughton.
Ms Sandbach added: “It was fascinating to see the next generation of wings being assembled for customers, such as those in Qatar, and to see the engineers, both male and female, working on them in such clean, high-tech surroundings.
“The factory is also a very environmentally friendly building, with solar power, air source heat pumps and a biomass boiler, all showing that energy efficiency is crucial to ensuring that companies can compete effectively.”