Boeing Australia expands local R&D effort

By Paul Hemsley

Federal Minister for Climate Change, Industry and Innovation Greg Combet has officially opened a research and development centre in Port Melbourne, Victoria for aerospace company Boeing – the largest facility of its kind for the company outside the United States.

The Australian subsidiary of the company which was once headed by former federal Coalition Leader of the Opposition Andrew Peacock from 2002 to 2007 presently employs 3000 people in 27 locations across five Boeing owned subsidiaries, including Boeing Research & Technology Australia (BR&T-Australia).

The company as whole has been the architect of widely used commercial aircraft products including the 747 “jumbo” jet and the more recent 787 “Dreamliner” which was developed using composite materials, structures and robotics technologies in Australia.

The R&D facility was created to put the company’s brains to work at not only increasing Boeing’s R&D capabilities, but to also work with local organisations such as universities, the CSIRO and the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO).

Boeing Australia and the CSIRO have been in partnership since 1988 and have since collaborated on several projects including atmospheric modelling research. The company also signed a 10-year Strategic Research and Development Alliance with DSTO in 2005 to boost Australia’s aerospace defences.

Mr Combet said Boeing Australia has been a significant contributor to, and beneficiary of, Australian R&D.

"Boosting innovation through R&D is the best way to keep Australian industry internationally competitive,” Mr Combet said.

He said Boeing has made a “considerable” investment in its innovation and research and development capabilities in Australia over the past five years.

"It will give the company access to Australia's best technology, create innovative solutions to global aerospace manufacturing challenges, reduce technical risks, enable the development of future aerospace technologies and improve the efficiency, cost and performance of current aerospace systems,” Mr Combet said.

He said Boeing's investment in an Australian branch for R&D highlighted the demand for Australia’s ability to meet the manufacturing and innovation demands of the global aerospace market.

"Boeing is a strong example of how Australian industry and researchers, supported by Gillard Government investment, can grow productivity and competitiveness across the national economy," he said.

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