Jobs in Farnborough, United Kingdom
From Early Flight to Advanced Military Technology
The borough of Rushmoor covers the towns of Aldershot and Farnborough and several surrounding settlements, with Farnborough serving as the seat of local government. It is situated on the northeast edge of Hampshire County, just 34 miles from London. Aerospace R&D and business aviation are important contributors to Farnborough’s economy but they employ only a small number of highly-skilled university graduates. Many local people find jobs in nearby towns or commute to London. Farnborough’s centre does not offer much of interest other than some retail malls. A major redevelopment is planned but work has just begun. The Leisure Centre has facilities for swimming, fitness, bowling, squash and other indoor sports and activities. There are football, rugby, cricket, hockey and basketball teams, and motorsports are also popular.
Farnborough has a rich aviation history. In 1878, the Army began operating a training and test centre for military uses of hot air ballooning in Woolwich. In 1897 the ballooning school became the Balloon Factory. After temporary moves to Chatham and Aldershot, it established a permanent facility in Farnborough in 1906. The first powered, heavier-than-air flight in Britain took place there in 1908. A touring American showman, Samuel Cody, had experimented with several models of flying kites. This led to his appointment as Chief Instructor for Kiting at the Balloon Factory. Soon after arriving there, he produced and flew British Army Aeroplane No. 1, an aircraft which combined features of his manned free-flying glider kite and his unmanned power kite. Although he was not a trained engineer, Cody’s interest was in aeronautical research. After his contract with the War Office terminated, he continued his work with private funds. Cody made further advances and won various awards until a fatal crash in 1913 while flight-testing a new design. He was buried with full honours at the Aldershot Military Cemetery and his grave site is one of several points of interest in Farnborough that commemorate his legacy.
The Balloon Factory became the Royal Aircraft Factory in 1912. Six years later, in 1918, the factory gave up manufacturing in order to concentrate on research, continuing this work under the name of the Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) until 1991, when the RAE was merged into a new Defence Research Agency. In 2001 the Ministry of Defence privatised a portion of its science and technology research portfolio, and a newly-formed company – QinetiQ – took over Farnborough’s R&D operations. QinetiQ quickly developed into a large multinational defence technology company and defence contractor. QinetiQ maintains a special relationship with the UK’s Ministry of Defence, but it also provides technology-based products and services to other government and commercial customers in North America, Europe, the Middle East and Australasia. In Farnborough, QinetiQ invested in the development of Cody Technology Park to serve as its own headquarters and provide office and light industrial space, including lab and data centre facilities, for letting to other R&D firms. The park currently houses around fifty such firms.
In 2003, the Ministry of Defence discontinued all remaining RAE operations at Farnborough, and TAG Aviation, a private company, took control of the airfield. TAG Aviation is a multinational business aviation operator. Under its management, several of the UK’s largest business-jet companies have chosen to make Farnborough Airport their home base, and there is now a sizeable traffic from conventional, privately-owned business jets. The Air Accidents Investigation Branch of the Department for Transport is also based on the airport’s premises. Farnborough Aerospace Centre, a business park south of the airfield, and IQ Farnborough, a multi-purpose complex with a local business park, a new housing development, and various landmarks of historical interest, also build on the town’s aeronautical past and contribute to its economy.
The Farnborough Airshow is an important biennial event for the international aerospace and defence industry. It is a one-week trade exhibition with a 3-day public airshow which has been held in July at the Farnborough Airport every two years since 1948. The show demonstrates civilian and military aircraft to potential customers and investors and attracts media coverage of new developments and orders. An estimated 80,000 visitors attended the 2018 airshow.
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