Iron Maiden singer sets up aircraft firm

Bruce Dickinson, a qualified pilot, launches company which can repair and overhaul planes up to the size of a Boeing 767

Iron Maiden singer Bruce Dickinson is hoping that money can be made from repairing heavy metal as well as performing it, after launching an aircraft maintenance business.

Dickinson, one of rock's renaissance men – a commercial airline pilot, enthusiastic fencer and published novelist – has established a company that will repair and overhaul aircraft up to the size of a Boeing 767. Cardiff Aviation Ltd will be based in an enterprise zone in the Vale of Glamorgan and Dickinson said the business had ambitious growth targets.

"We're coming into this enterprise with the knowledge we'll be bringing business to south Wales," he said. "A cautious projection is that we'd expect to create up to a thousand jobs within 18 months, based on the level of interest and commitment from aircraft manufacturers and operators."

Dickinson added: "South Wales has long had an association with the aircraft industry and I am delighted I am able to play a small part in the continuation of that tradition."

Dickinson's love of flying has assured the singer a place as one of rock's more eccentric figures, although he has assured fans that he does not "leap around the flight deck yelling and screaming". The 53-year-old was a captain for the now-defunct Astraeus Airlines and has flown his band in their "Ed Force One" Boeing 757 during an Iron Maiden world tour.

The Wales business minister, Edwina Hart, said the new company would boost a "dynamic" aerospace sector in Wales. "The Welsh government has been working closely with Bruce Dickinson and Cardiff Aviation on this exciting project for some time and we are delighted it has come to fruition. This is exactly the type of investment needed, which will create hundreds of well-paid skilled jobs in one of our key sectors," he said.

Dickinson's venture will be based in a 132,000 square foot hangar at the St Athan enterprise zone, one of five zones set up by the Welsh government for specific sectors. Welsh government officials said the zone could create 10,000 jobs by 2025.

The songwriter also said the venture could provide a welcome boost to Cardiff airport, which has recently seen visitor numbers drop. He said: "Cardiff airport has tremendous potential to challenge the successful English regional airports."

Hart said:

"This is a flagship operation and provides a great start for the new Aerospace Enterprise Zone."

Last year the Welsh government confirmed it was setting up five enterprise zones, each specialising in a different sector.


Dan Milmo

The GuardianTramp

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