Visit to Chevron Aircraft Maintenance and the Impact of Brexit on Aviation
I was delighted to visit Chevron Aircraft Maintenance at Prestwick to see round the business and meet some of their apprentices. It takes a long time to train as an engineer and hands on experience is crucial to getting a license, which is one advantage of an apprenticeship. I spoke with one young trainee, Lisa, and it was great to see more young women coming into the industry.
My thanks to Managing Director, Mike Stewart for inviting me to visit, and to Alan for explaining how things work. There is huge demand for aircraft maintenance and overhaul services and the new hangar space planned for Prestwick through the Ayrshire Growth Deal should allow this business to go from strength to strength.
Now we just need to stay in the European Aviation Safety Agency!
Chevron was one of the companies I mentioned in my speech in Parliament at the end of October when I took part in a debate on the impact of Brexit on Aviation. Brexit will have significant ramifications for Prestwick Airport and our local aerospace campus and it is essential we stay in the Single Aviation Market, as this sector impacts our whole economy. It is often claimed that Brexit will allow increased trade with the rest of the world but, as Germany demonstrates, there is no need to leave the EU to trade with other countries. While Brexiteers extol the virtues of crashing out of the EU, aviation is not covered by World Trade Organisation rules, nor is it generally covered in most Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), so the idea that the UK can easily replace the European Common Aviation Area is simply not true.
The aerospace companies at Prestwick, and elsewhere in Ayrshire, provide maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services and employ hundreds of engineers in homegrown and multinational companies. For them, it is critical we stay in the European Aviation Safety Agency as it is EASA part-145, that allows them to release a plane as safe to fly in the EU, and their engineers are licensed under part-66. If we leave EASA, companies could only do MRO work for UK airlines, not European airlines, which would take away a whole market. These highly-skilled jobs allow their families to spend their money in local shops and restaurants, thus stimulating our whole local economy.
Prestwick is still is a significant airport with a large cargo industry and hosts 50% of the Scottish aerospace industry where manufacturing depends on ‘just in time’ supply chains which zig-zag all over Europe. These will be affected by the increased costs, bureaucracy and time lost at borders as a result of leaving the ‘Single Market’. The aviation supply chain in Ayrshire could start to unravel if the right policies are not put in place post-Brexit.
To see my speech in full click here