Aviation has flourished for almost a century at the Rolls-Royce site in north Bristol, which today employs approximately 3,500 people. The Rolls-Royce name first appeared at the site in 1966 when the company took over Bristol Siddeley Engines.
Today, approximately half of the Bristol employees work for the company’s Defence Aerospace division, responsible for the design, development, manufacture and support of some of the most sophisticated military engine products in the world, including engines for aircraft including the Typhoon (EJ200), Hawk (Adour), F-35 Lightning II (LiftSystem and F136) and the Apache, Merlin and NH90 helicopters (RTM322).
Teams at the Bristol site also manage the company’s involvement in collaborative military programmes, such as the AirTanker consortium supplying the UK’s Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft, and Europrop International, which is designing and producing the TP-400 engine for the Airbus A400M military transport aircraft.
Revenues from supporting and servicing military engines now account for over 55 per cent of Defence Aerospace sales and the focal point for this expanding business is the Operations Centre in Bristol, which moved to a 24/7 operation with a year of its launch.
A majority of Bristol employees work for the Operation business, designing, procuring and manufacturing high-technology components for military and civil aero engines.
Also based at the site is the Marine division which focuses on the delivery of equipment and support services to navies around the world. Current programmes include the Future Carrier and the Type 45 Destroyer programme for the Royal Navy and the Littoral Combat Ship for the US Navy.
The Rolls-Royce site in Patchway, Bristol, has completed a major transformation. Over £75 million has been invested to build two new facilities to manufacture and assemble aero components and engines, provide new training and restaurant facilities for employees, and to update existing office space. A new Operations factory producing turbines and other engine components was opened in September 2007 and the Defence Aerospace engine facility was opened in October 2008.
This redevelopment has enabled the Bristol site to attract additional work outside of its traditional business base. In July 2007 it was announced that development assembly and test for the Environmentally Friendly Engine would take place at the site, which included the conversion of a new test bed with the assistance of the South West Regional Development Agency.
Robert Fenner moved to Bristol from Grayling's London office in July 2008. "It was a really good move for me," he says. "The energy in business here is as dynamic as anywhere else, and the quality of life is so much better. Bristol has an identity of its own, and the South-West is a great place to be - whether as a next step or as a starting point in a public relations career. I'd recommend it to anyone."