Report shows Waterford airport could become Ireland’s first dedicated centre for aerospace research and development in Ireland.

Published on: 25 April 2024

Ní Mhurchú calls on Waterford County Council, Wexford County Council and other stakeholders in the region to get behind proposals to build Ireland’s first dedicated centre for aerospace research and development in Ireland at Waterford airport. 

Cynthia Ní Mhurchú, a member of the Governing Board of the South East Technological University, has been given a copy of a report which has been prepared by engineers at the SETU for executives in Waterford County Council. The report outlines the potential for Waterford airport to become Ireland’s first dedicated centre for aerospace research and development. Ní Mhurchú has described the proposals as being at an early stage and has called on all stakeholders to get behind them, 

"It makes perfect sense to me that we would build Ireland’s first National Aerospace Academy and Innovation Centre (NAAIC) at Waterford Regional Airport. This will be a great example of stakeholders such as the SETU, Waterford County Council and Waterford airport working together to deliver a project that will create jobs, investment and innovation in Waterford and the wider South East region”

The report concludes that Waterford airport would be the ideal location because, 

1) It has more than suitable air space and technologies for flight testing unmanned air vehicles.

2) It has a suitable runway that allows for the takeoff and landing of small aircraft and unmanned air vehicles, which allows companies to fly UAVs for testing and hence connecting the centre with the UK and Europe. 

3) The airport is close to the SETU, and connecting a university with an airport of this size is similar to approaches taken in Europe, for example, Hans Christen Andersen Airport and the Danish flight test facility for UAS. 

Ní Mhurchú  praised the initiatives taken by the SETU in advancing the areas of aerospace engineering. The Centre of Research and Enterprise in Engineering (engCORE) at SETU has been engaged in significant R&D in the Aerospace Engineering field since 2015. Currently the Aero research group consists of ten principal investigators. 

Ní Mhurchú criticised Eamon Ryan for a lack of action on getting Waterford airport open again, 

“I am calling on Minister Ryan to fund Waterford airport. There is a 12m private investment proposal on the table that will facilitate the return of commercial flights at Waterford Airport for the first time in seven years. The money will be used primarily to extend the runway. We need match funding from the Minister to drive the investment on. It has sparked the interest of Ryanair who have expressed an interest in operating from Waterford airport and I am today calling on Minister Ryan to engage with stakeholders to get the airport up and running again” 

“Airports bring jobs, investment and allow our pharmaceutical industry in the South East to export their products from Waterford. It makes no sense driving two hours up the road to an over heated Dublin airport, when we have our own airport right here in the South East”