Britain Gets Approval To Help Engineering Firm

BRUSSELS (AP) -- Britain got the EU's approval Tuesday to advance 60 million pounds ($100 million) to engineering firm GKN PLC to help it develop lighter aircraft wing components.

European Union regulators must check large state payments to companies to make sure they don't distort the market by giving one firm an unfair advantage over rivals.

The European Commission said Tuesday the repayable loan could be authorized because it would help the company pay for research and development and would be reimbursed with interest from a levy on future sales.

The GKN project aims to build parts for airplane wings that weigh less and would help aircraft reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

Last year, GKN bought Airbus' wing components site at Filton, England in a deal valued at 136 million pounds ($240 million.) The plant makes parts for a broad range of Airbus planes -- including the A320 and A330/340 families, the A380 and A400M.

State subsidies to aircraft manufacturers Airbus and Boeing have led to a decade-long trade spat between the European Union and the United States.

The World Trade Organization earlier this month largely backed Boeing complaints about European government aid to Airbus in a confidential ruling. It must still rule on Airbus' parallel complaints about U.S. support for Boeing.

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