Celebrating 100 Years of Aviation in the West of England

Friday 19, February 2010


Celebrating 100 Years of Aviation in the West of England


An easyJet Airbus A319 was today named “Sir George White” to commemorate 100 years of aerospace design, engineering and manufacturing in the Bristol region. Today’s ceremony, which is the launch event for centenary celebrations of aviation in the West of England, was marked with a VIP champagne reception at Bristol International Airport, a commemorative flight over the city of Bristol, and a ceremony at Airbus’s engineering and manufacturing site at Filton.



Sir George White founded the Bristol Aeroplane Company (BAC) at Filton, near Bristol, in February 1910. From these humble beginnings, globally significant enterprises that are now major parts of UK aviation giants Airbus and Rolls-Royce plc, and an environment that supports aerospace suppliers across the country, was born. Sir George’s pioneering spirit also lives on in the world-class scientific research to be found throughout many UK universities and industrial sectors.


Today, aviation supports 200,000 jobs directly, and 500,000 indirectly, in the UK, and is worth more than £11.5 billion in GDP. These jobs cover skills from designing complex IT systems, advanced engineering and manufacturing, to customer services. All are vital pieces to the UK economy.


Prime Minister Gordon Brown said: “It gives me great pleasure to support the celebrations marking the centenary of aviation in the West of England. Since the Bristol Aeroplane Company was founded by Sir George White, the industry has pioneered some of the most significant technological developments and innovations. Today, Bristol and the South West can be proud of its position as one of the world’s leading centres for aerospace engineering and advanced manufacturing. It is truly a British success story. And its position in the UK economy will only be enhanced as we look to sectors like aerospace and advanced technology to underpin strong, sustainable growth in the future.”


Tom Williams, Airbus’ Executive Vice-President of Programmes, said, “BAC 100 celebrates technology, innovation and advanced engineering in the West of England, past, present and future. For 100 years, Airbus and hundreds of other companies have led the technological development of our industry, and designed and manufactured some of the world’s leading aircraft and engines right here in this quiet corner of the UK. Working hard, we have built a £11 billion industry for the UK and influenced aviation around the world. It is fair to say we proudly hold and nurture the ‘crown jewels’ of UK aerospace in our very capable hands. Airbus is proud of our heritage in Bristol, and proud to acknowledge the accomplishments of the industry during the BAC 100 celebrations this year.”


Andy Harrison, CEO of easyJet, said: As the UK’s largest airline, we are proud to honor Sir George White’s pioneering spirit. Like Airbus, which has evolved from modest roots in Bristol to become a world market leader, easyJet has grown from a small airline with two aircraft to Europe’s number one air transport network in just 15 years. Today, easyJet is Airbus’ largest European customer with one aircraft being delivered to us every 14 days, which will allow us to carry 50 million passengers on 500 routes this year. Just as Airbus has been a pioneer for the last 40 years, we are now looking for the next pioneering steps in developing the next generation of cleaner, greener aircraft to allow the industry to reduce carbon emissions.”


Robert Sinclair, Chief Executive Officer of Bristol International Airport, said: “With easyJet basing 10 Airbus aircraft at Bristol International Airport year-round, we see the incredible results of Sir George White’s vision every day. These aircraft link the South West to destinations across the UK and Europe, connecting the region’s businesses to new markets, helping families and friends stay in touch and enabling local people to achieve their travel aspirations from their regional airport. We are proud to play our part in today’s celebrations and to serve a region synonymous with aviation excellence.”


The 2010 BAC 100 programme will commemorate and promote the West of England’s technological achievements through education and arts projects, exhibitions, publications and community-based events, among other activities. The year-long celebration is a collaboration between local authorities, businesses and business organisations, heritage groups, arts organisations and other bodies, including Airbus, GWE Business West and Rolls-Royce. Events will not only look at a landmark in aviation history but also explore future challenges and aspirations in aviation design and travel, and consider the wider role of science and technology in shaping the region. For more information about BAC 100, go to




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