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UK industry consortium to focus on energy efficient aircraft

Mar '21
Pic: GKN Aerospace
Pic: GKN Aerospace
A new UK industry consortium called ASCEND (Aerospace and Automotive Supply Chain Enabled Development) has been launched to accelerate the development of composite material and process technologies for the next generation of energy efficient aircraft and future mobility. The consortium is being led by GKN Aerospace, and will focus on lightweight structures.

The £40m consortium, funded by a £20.0m commitment from industry and a £19.6m commitment from the UK Government via ATI, will focus on greater adoption of composite technologies today, the industrialisation of new technologies, as well as accelerating aerospace production rates to meet future high-volume requirements. The collaboration will help develop technologies from across the UK supply-chain to develop the advanced materials and automation equipment required to manufacture lightweight structures for the sustainable air mobility, aerospace and automotive industry.

Assyst Bullmer, Airborne, Cobham Mission Systems Wimborne, Cygnet Texkimp, Des Composites, FAR-UK, Hexcel Composites, Hive Composites, LMAT, Loop Technology, McLaren Automotive, the National Composites Centre, Rafinex, Sigmatex (UK) and Solvay Composite Materials are joining GKN Aerospace in the consortium with collaboration and investment support from Axillium Research. Through a three-year commitment, the partnership, backed by the UK government, will bring together expertise, capabilities and resources from across the wider UK aerospace and automotive supply chain. In doing so, ASCEND will strengthen the UK’s position as a technology leader in future lightweight structures and help to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions in the aerospace and automotive industry.

Axillium is an independent research and innovation agency working with businesses, public bodies and universities to identify, architect, convene and deliver multipartner R and D projects, programmes and ecosystems, based around Axillium’s proprietary e-Volution framework.

The consortium will be led from GKN Aerospace’s £32m Global Technology Centre in Bristol and will support up to 130 jobs through 2023/24. GKN Aerospace will use its long-term experience and in-depth knowledge of composite engineering for integrated airframe structures in the project.

John Pritchard, president Civil Airframe GKN Aerospace said: “GKN Aerospace has deep knowledge and expertise in composite technology and we are proud to lead this consortium. Accelerating the next-generation of lightweight, cost effective advanced composite technologies is critical for the aerospace and automotive industry and its move to more energy-efficient aircraft and vehicles. Ensuring we can not only develop these technologies, but also manufacture them at high-rate across the UK supply chain, will maintain our position as an industry leader and underpin our commitment to sustainability. Combined with the Aerospace Technology Institute, which is providing vital support for the UK’s position on the next generation of aircraft, we will be able to deliver breakthroughs in technology as well as benchmark levels of price, quality and repeatability.”

Helen Corney, managing director, Axillium, said “We are excited to be a delivery partner in developing the ASCEND programme and look forward to supporting all of the organisations in the delivery of the innovation ecosystem over the next three years.”

Fibre2Fashion News Desk (SV)

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