UK aerospace manufacturing receives £90 million boost

by Callum Tennant
An engine fan

The UK Government, along with industry, is to plough nearly £90 million into five innovative aerospace projects, that could revolutionise aerospace manufacturing in the UK and secure 1,400 jobs. Funding for the projects, which is being done through the Aerospace Technology Institute Programme, aims to make aerospace production lines quicker, more efficient, and cost-effective.

 What does the scheme hope to achieve?

Whilst the funding is designed to help make UK aerospace manufacturing more competitive, the scheme also focuses on making air travel more sustainable.

Project proposals include creating lightweight materials, and parts that reduce fuel consumption. It is hoped that these new technologies could be adopted and assist future hybrid and electric planes, helping make the aviation sector greener.

Paul Scully, the Minister for Business, said that the investment would: “safeguard vital jobs and support the aerospace sector”. He added that the cash injection will help ensure: “that the UK is at the forefront of global efforts [to] develop technology that can power a green aviation revolution”.

Industry will provide £44.6 million of the funding, with the remaining £44.1 million coming from the Government.

A plane reflected in a cars wing mirror

Which projects will receive funding?

 ASCEND programme – £39.6 million

 This GKN Aerospace-led initiative, is seeking to create and introduce new lightweight composite technology, including for new wing materials. McLaren Automotive is just one of the other big-name companies to join this consortium. The project is based in the Bristol area.

LAMADA project – £26.4 million

 This venture, led by Renishaw, is seeking to develop a 3D metal printer that can mass produce small components for aircraft. It is hoped that such a machine would improve consistency, production rates and that it would reduce costs. The scheme is located in South Wales.

Airbus-led Smarter Testing initiative – £10.6 million

This project hopes to reduce development time and costs for new aeronautical structures, by developing a novel test and certification process. The test, which will include virtual and physical tests, will work with industrial actors and a wide network of academics.

 Connected Reconfigurable Factory – £10.4 million

Led by Thales, this investment will create two open-access laboratories, one in Crawley, and the other in Belfast. It is hoped that the new factories, which will focus on digital innovation and manufacturing respectively, will help make the design and production of electronic systems more efficient.

LiveWire – £1.7 million

This Q5D-led project hopes to help automate the wiring process within aircraft, which is currently done by hand. Government describes the current laborious process as being “prone to errors”, some of which can lead to fires.

It is hoped that automation could improve consistency and lead to over 300 jobs in research and development, however it is likely that a high number of existing jobs would be made redundant.

What do you think of the UK investments in its aerospace manufacturing sector? Let us know in the comments below!

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