Aerospace History as Expleo Isle of Man Celebrates 40 Years in Business

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Aboard aircraft around the world there’s a piece of Isle of Man aerospace excellence in the form of Expleo’s long history of work and innovation in the industry. Started in 1979 by Short Brothers of Belfast, the company has become a mainstay in the Island’s aerospace heritage, specialising in the aerospace structural market and providing an unmatched service portfolio for clients around the world.

Brian Maddrell, Business Manager of Expleo Isle of Man, explains the history, challenges, and opportunities regarding their future in the industry.

Q: What is Expleo and what are your greatest achievements over the past 40 years?

Expleo is the technology partner for innovative companies. We offer access to sector specific expertise and best practice across consultancy and business agility, product design, production and in-service support, as well as continuous high-quality. Our unmatched service portfolio reflects the changing needs of the market as engineering and software become increasingly interconnected.

Over the past few years we have established a strong business model in the Isle of Man, hiring and training a solid engineering team recruiting both apprentices and graduates from the Island and the UK to learn and grow with the company and develop its next generation of engineers. Our main focus is designing aircraft components in the wings, fuselage, flight deck, nose structure, nacelles, passenger doors, floor and fairings for our customers.

We have striven to gain an establish authority in the industry and we now have a significant number of ‘Delegated Authority’ engineers, who approve designs that will be manufactured for customers such as Airbus, Spirit Aerosystems and Rockwell Collins, to name a few. The Aerospace market has a limited client pool, so it is important that we achieve retained business with them. As an example, we have helped Airbus on the following aircraft, A320, A321, A340, A350, A380 and A400M and, we are now working on the new Single Aisle variants that will take Airbus to the next level over the coming years.

As far as highlights go, Expleo has won lots of awards, including, Supplier of the Year to Airbus for the last 5 years and we have had the honour of being involved in some really interesting projects, including:

  • Supporting the whole life cycle of an aircraft from concept design to production support.
  • Designing components in the A380 Wing – for the world’s largest aircraft
  • Designing components in the A350 Wing – for the latest Airbus passenger aircraft
  • Designing components in the Eurofighter Fuselage
  • Creating an Isle of Man TT Sidecar Design in composites

Q: How has the industry changed over the past few decades?

Aircraft designs have changed subtly over the last few years, with few significant changes to the performance of the planes themselves. Instead, as more people than ever choose to fly commercially, many airlines have prioritised comfort, aesthetics and customer service as they compete for greater market share.

While demand for comfort, luxury aesthetics and good customer service are likely to remain at the core of the business strategies of airliners in the foreseeable future, manufacturers are focusing more closely on areas such as emissions and fuel efficiency.

Commercial airlines are reported to spend more than 23.5% of their operating expenses on fuel. As such, even the smallest improvements to fuel efficiency can result in the considerable reductions of costs. This has led Airbus to bring in modifications to their existing fleet of aircraft, incorporating new wing tips to reduce drag and new jet engines that provide a fuel saving and reduced maintenance costs.

Beyond this, innovative new designs for aircrafts are being looked at by the aerospace market’s key players, and though these designs have yet to be introduced, it may be only a matter of time.

Q: What plans does Expleo Isle of Man have for the next 40+ years?

Our main aim is to continue servicing our customers in the aerospace market, whilst diversifying into other engineering sectors to grow and prosper. It will be important to recruit young enthusiastic engineering graduates to continue the company into the future.

Expleo Isle of Man’s workforce consists mainly of structural design and stress analysis aerospace engineers, which specialise in designing different types of aerospace components / assemblies that are fitted to commercial and military airplanes.

Our aerospace engineers have a broad range of important duties and responsibilities:

  • Evaluate designs to confirm that products meet engineering principles
  • Determine if proposed projects will result in safe aircraft and parts
  • Assess proposals and design requirements
  • Analyse and interpret data
  • Ensure that projects meet quality standards
  • Ensure designs meet customer requirements
  • Provide technical advice
  • Write reports and documentation
  • Identify sources of problems and possible solutions
  • Meet completion dates and deadlines

They continuously apply their knowledge to all parts of the engineering process: design, analysis, integration, testing, deployment and maintenance. On their authority, parts are manufactured and fitted to aircraft. It is very important that the industry remains fuelled by a new generation of innovative engineers to secure the future of our aerospace industry and the continuing success of Expleo Isle of Man.

Get in touch

Contact or visit to find out more about the Isle of Man Aerospace Cluster, to get involved in our future cluster events, or to arrange a meeting with one of the team.

For more information on Expleo visit