British Aerospace is concentrating structural work on the troubled Nimrod MRA4 maritime patrol aircraft at its Woodford factory. The move follows an announcement in March that the aircraft's in-service date has slipped from April 2003 until 2005.

As a result Cobham subsidiary FR Aviation (FRA) will lose a contract for fuselage renovation work. BAe will give £32 million ($52.5 million) to FRA as compensation. BAe won the £2.4 billion programme to convert 21 Nimrods to MRA4 standard in 1996.

Cobham chief executive Gordon Page says three of the four airframes at FRA's Hurn facility in the south of England will be transported to Woodford, near Manchester, this year. A fourth airframe will be finished before being transferred in the first half of next year.

As compensation, FRA will also provide engineering support to "older" BAe military and commercial aircraft including the Hawk, Harrier and Strikemaster.

BAe says it decided to move the Nimrod airframe work under one roof following a review of the programme after the problems were revealed in March this year. The move will save money, says BAe, adding that concentrating airframe work in one-place will better allow the company to meet the programme's revised timescales.

Refurbishment of the Nimrod airframe for the MRA4 programme includes new build wings and other structures. The fuselage is retained with the structure receiving corrosion treatment and protection as well as new floors and pressure bulkheads.

Source: Flight International