The Prince of Wales meets apprentices and industrial cadets during his visit to Airbus, Broughton, to mark the site's 75th anniversary
The Prince of Wales joined present and former employees at Airbus in Broughton, North Wales, to mark the 75th anniversary of the first aerospace factory opening on the site in 1939.
He opened a new visitor centre which marks the history of the site from the first Vickers Wellington bomber to be manufactured to the construction of the wings for the new Airbus A350 which will go into service at the end of this year.
His Royal Highness also presented Airbus - which makes 1,100 wings every year for airlines around the world - with The Queen's Award for Enterprise which the company won in the international trade category in April.
After unveiling a plaque to herald the visitor centre, The Prince of Wales, a qualified pilot, said: "Today gives me the opportunity to watch the enormous impact and success Airbus has had and is having in the local community and particularly in national terms.
"I admire the extraordinary way in which you ensure all these wings are produced because I do have some rather vague idea as to what goes into it."
He said he was impressed with the company's international sales and how Airbus strived to help make aircraft more energy efficient and quieter.
Paul McKinlay, head of the Broughton plant, welcomed The Prince of Wales's visit as "a significant milestone".
He said: "The site has changed considerably in the three-quarters of a century since the first factory opened and we have benefitted from around £1.9 billion of investment in new facilities and equipment since we became part of the Airbus company in 2001.
"Mosquitos, Doves, Wellingtons and Comets have emerged from this factory over the years and today we play a part in developing the most technologically advance civil airliners in the world. Airbus is vital to the continued success of the aerospace industry and this in turn benefits the region and the whole country."
The Prince of Wales with Airbus employees
The Prince of Wales presented The Queen's Award to Tom Williams, director of Airbus Operations Ltd, in front of some of the 6,000 workers at the Broughton plant and also viewed some wings destined for A350 customer Finnair in the site's state-of-the-art North Factory.
Mr Williams said: "There is an enormous sense of pride among the people working here and at our sister site in Filton who know that everyone travelling on an Airbus aircraft all around the world are likely to be flying on wings that have been designed and manufactured in the United Kingdom.
"This award recognises all of our team and a further 100,000 in the extended supply chain who support our operations across the country."
His Royal Highness also met some of the 400 apprentices at Airbus - which recruits about 80 per year - and also a group of young female Industrial Cadets.
The pupils from Clywedog School in Wrexham beat off competition from other schools in the town and Chester to win recognition for their idea of an outdoor classroom, named The Pod Project, which also serves the community by providing a selling point for groceries and a general relaxtion area.
The idea for the cadet scheme originated in discussions between the Prince and representatives of Tata Steel in the North East in 2010 and has since been rolled out as a national initiative by the charity The Engineering Development Trust (EDT) which specialises in linking business and education.
Industrial Cadets introduces young people to the workplace by giving them an insight into how businesses operate.
The programme involves industry-based activities where 11 to 19-year-olds can develop personal skills and enhance careers awareness while gaining accreditation from a national initiative designed to raise their aspirations.
The pupils at Clywedog School studied and researched their environmental project with the help of an Airbus mentor.