The UK government-industry is funding five projects through the Aerospace Technology Institute Programme aimed to improve manufacturing within the aerospace industry, developing technology to make production lines quicker, more efficient, and more cost-effective. The projects will safeguard the UK’s manufacturing sector, ensuring that the UK remains a competitive market for aerospace companies as it recovers from the coronavirus pandemic.
Minister for Business Paul Scully said: “This multi-million-pound cash injection will safeguard vital jobs and support the aerospace sector as it builds back stronger after the pandemic. Manufacturing is at the very heart of UK industry, and innovative processes will ensure that the UK is at the forefront of global efforts as we develop technology that can power a green aviation revolution.”
A particular focus of the project proposals is on creating lightweight materials and parts that will reduce how much fuel is used and that can be adopted onto future hybrid and electric aircraft. This will help the wider aerospace industry build back greener as it innovates and adapts to more sustainable travel over the next few decades.
Projects receiving funding include:
– Renishaw-led LAMDA: The project will develop a 3D metal printing machine to mass produce smaller components for aircraft, increasing production and consistency and reducing costs.
– GKN Aerospace-led ASCEND: With McLaren Automotive also joining the consortium, the project is seeking to develop and accelerate new lightweight, composite technology, including parts for aircraft wings, in the aerospace and automotive sectors, and improve supply chains for more sustainable future mobility solutions.
– Q5D-led LiveWire: The project will create a machine that can automate the manufacture of wiring and embed it into aircraft parts including airline seats or even a control panel in a flight deck, reducing costs and making lighter, higher-quality components.
Aviation Minister Robert Courts said: “Net Zero aviation is the future and this cash injection will boost capabilities as we look to build back greener and make businesses sustainable in the future. We are committed to working closely with industry, including through the Jet Zero Council, to accelerate the development of new aviation technology and Sustainable Aviation Fuels to help us realise net zero flight.”
The government will help advance the UK’s future transport system through its extensive R&D Roadmap and to increase R&D public spending to £22 billion per year by 2024/5. This investment comes ahead of the consultation on the Aviation Decarbonisation Strategy this year, set out as part of the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan for a green industrial revolution, with jet zero and low carbon aviation as a key pillar to building back greener.
The announcement of the grant winners forms part of a wider £3.9 billion government-industry investment in aerospace research and development projects from 2013 to 2026 through the Aerospace Growth Partnership and delivered through the ATI Programme. The ATI Programme’s grant winners have been chosen by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Innovate UK, and the Aerospace Technology Institute. The total investment in the projects will be £88.7 million, with £44.1 million coming from government and £44.6 million from industry.
Renishaw-led LAMDA (Large Scale Additive Manufacturing for Defence and Aerospace)
£26.4m investment over four years – £13.2m government grant, matched by industry.
This project aims to develop a 3D metal printing machine which can be used to build larger aerospace components and mass produce smaller parts. This will reduce costs by delivering higher production rates. By exploiting superior material properties and innovative design, this will enable the manufacturing of smaller, lighter components, contributing towards net zero aviation.
GKN Aerospace-led ASCEND (Aerospace and Automotive Supply Chain Enabled Development)
£39.6m investment over three years – £19.6m government grant, £20m from industry.
The consortium behind ASCEND aims to develop innovative technologies, processes, and tools for the high-rate manufacture of lightweight composites for sustainable aircraft, cars and future mobility. The project will focus on increasing automation and skills to support the reduction of carbon emissions across these industries. ASCEND will help support the rapid growth in the low-emissions aerospace and automotive sectors, as hybrid and electric aircraft and new mobility concepts become more mainstream. The project will keep the UK at the forefront of this technology development and ensure it remains competitive in the global market.
Airbus-led Smarter Testing
£10.6m investment over three years – £5.3m government grant, matched by industry.
The Smarter Testing project aims to develop a novel test and certification process for aeronautical structures, which will combine virtual and physical tests to provide a step reduction in development lead-time and costs. The partners intend to use this opportunity to build a ‘Centre of Excellence’ for Smarter Testing in the UK. This will strongly rely on the expertise and skills developed within this project by the industrial partners and an extended support network of academic and research organisations.
Thales-led COREF (Connected Reconfigurable Factory)
£10.4m investment over three years – £5.2m government grant, matched by industry. This project will focus on Industry 4.0 (‘smart’) tools & processes for low-volume, high-complexity manufacturing, creating two open-access, digitally-connected innovation laboratories. These will enable companies to increase the productivity and efficiency of their electronic systems design and assembly processes, while reducing costs. The Crawley laboratory will concentrate on digital innovation, while the laboratory in Belfast will concentrate on manufacturing. These facilities will be accessible to the supply chain and the public through partner invitation. COREF will create or safeguard 25 research and development jobs throughout the life of the project and up to 18 manufacturing-related jobs post-project.
For more information: https://www.ati.org.uk/