UK aerospace sector to benefit from £400m funding to ‘Go Green’

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Aerospace jobs and supply chains across the UK will benefit from cutting-edge research and development projects announced today by the Government and aerospace industry leaders.

Government grants totalling £200m, delivered through the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) programme, will be matched by industry to create the total investment of £400m in new research and technology, enabling ambitious projects to lift off and support the sector’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

New projects set to receive funding will include developing high-performance engines, new wing designs, ultra-lightweight materials, energy-efficient electric components, and other brand new concepts to enhance innovation within the sector. A project led by Williams Advanced Engineering in Oxford, for example, will develop ultra-lightweight seat structures that will reduce an aircraft’s fuel consumption.

The funding will also secure highly-skilled jobs in the UK’s aerospace sector and will benefit companies of all sizes from Caldicot in Wales to Bedlington in the North of England. Higher education institutions will also be a part of the projects, including the universities of Nottingham and Birmingham.

The funding was announced by Business Secretary Alok Sharma at Farnborough Connect, the virtual version of Farnborough International Airshow.

Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Alok Sharma said: “We have an incredible aerospace industry right here in the UK that defines the way aircraft are manufactured globally.

“This £400m ATI investment will help secure our world-leading position in developing new flight technology to make air travel safer and greener into the future.”

The successful projects that will receive a share of the Government’s £200m grant funding through the ATI programme, and match it with their own investment, include:

  • Wings: The UK is the home of Airbus wing design and manufacturing. Airbus-led projects (Broughton, Filton) will drive forward more efficient wing assembly, systems installation, digital design processes and a range of innovative wing concepts including folding wing tips.
  • Engines: Rolls-Royce-led projects will support the development of the UltraFan engine technology, which will make a step change in the efficiency and environmental performance of aircraft.
  • Power systems: The AEPEC project led by Safran Electrical & Power UK (Pitstone) will research how new electrical power systems can lead to more efficient energy usage.
  • Cabin Systems: An Oxford-based project led by Williams Advanced Engineering will develop ultra-lightweight seat structures for air travel, reducing the weight of aircraft.

Stu Olden, Senior Commercial Manager for Defence, Aerospace & Emerging Markets at Williams Advanced Engineering, said: “A key benefit for us of the ATI support has been to enable accelerated development of the three companies involved in the consortium.

“Additionally, by developing UK technologies and innovation, the ATI programme is enabling UK-based product development and, hopefully, future jobs. For Williams Advanced Engineering it has allowed us to participate in the aerospace sector as a non-traditional supplier.”

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