The Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) and the National Graphene Institute (NGI) at The University of Manchester have published a joint paper on the potential of graphene in aerospace.

In consultation with a range of stakeholders, the ATI and NGI have brought together a sector perspective of the benefits of working with graphene and the potential market opportunities available to UK aerospace companies.

Graphene – widely hailed as a wonder material since it was first isolated in 2004 and the subsequent Nobel Prize in Physics that was awarded to two Manchester scientists in 2010 – has the potential to positively impact aircraft performance, cost and fuel efficiency.

The safety and performance properties of aircraft could be significantly improved by incorporating atomically-thin graphene into existing materials used to build planes, while the reduced weight of the material could have a positive impact on the fuel efficiency of the aircraft and, as result, the environment.

In an exclusive introduction to the INSIGHT paper, Sir Richard Branson said:

The potential for graphene to solve enduring challenges within the aerospace sector presents real opportunities for the material to become disruptive, and a key enabler in future aircraft technology. We need to accelerate the opportunity for the UK to realise the benefits from graphene by creating a portfolio of graphene-related research and technology projects which if undertaken would lead to real impact in our aerospace industry.

The joint ATI and NGI paper was launched at the Materials Research Exchange 2018 by Mark Summers, Head of Technology for Manufacturing, Materials & Structures at the ATI, and James Baker, CEO of Graphene@Manchester at The University of Manchester.

Mark Summers said:

The UK has pioneered the research and development of graphene. The material has the potential to bring exciting applications and efficiencies into the sector. Although its exploitation into the aerospace sector is still in its infancy, it is anticipated that the scope of potential applications will continue to expand.

We will seek to accelerate the maturation of graphene technology opportunities through our R&T programme, in a bid for the UK to remain ahead of the challenge and continue leading on the research and exploitation of the material in aerospace.

James Baker said:

Major generational improvements in the aerospace sector have been associated with embracing new materials. Aluminium and carbon fibre have seen planes become faster, greener, cheaper with more functionality. Now graphene and related two-dimensional materials can mark the next step-change.

“By incorporating graphene into the existing materials used to manufacture planes, performance properties could be improved across number of key areas. By utilising the multi-functional properties of graphene and through collaboration between industry and academia, there are significant opportunities which can accelerate the next-generation of aerospace technologies.

The ATI and NGI are continuing to collaborate on accelerating the technology development cycle for graphene applications in the UK aerospace sector – identifying suitable opportunities for graphene and ensuring that the UK aerospace sector can leverage the material’s amazing properties to remain globally competitive.

Organisations that worked with the Aerospace Technology Institute and National Graphene Institute on the paper included the University of Central Lancashire, the Centre for Process Innovation, QinetiQ, Morson Projects Limited and Haydale Limited with input from Ekosgen.

The ATI has today launched a Fixed Trade Calculator to support the UK aerospace sector, particularly those organisations that don’t have easy access to simplified trade-off study capabilities.

The Fixed Trade Calculator enables assessment of the impact of novel technologies on representative conventional narrow- and wide-bodied aircraft. It provides users with the fuel burn benefits, operating cost changes and environmental impact (in terms of CO2) that can result from introducing new technologies onto these aircraft.

The online resource is designed to inform discussion and support decision making within the UK aerospace supply chain – and is already being used to assess relevant project applications made to the UK Aerospace R&T Programme.

This is a first for the UK, and ground-breaking in global aerospace. The few organisations that have the capability to make fixed trade calculations are often unable to share the modelling outside of their partner organisations. The Institute’s Fixed Trade Calculator has been developed using public data to provide access to this capability to all organisations within the UK aerospace ecosystem.

Steve Clerkin, Head of Aerospace Electrical Power Systems at Raytheon said:

The gold nugget for power electronics companies is being able to estimate the value of one kilogram of weight change in terms of fuel burn and platform operating costs. Until now, this capability was not something that was easily accessible to us. The Fixed Trade Calculator developed by the ATI is the first independent way of calculating such trade-offs, giving companies credible information to support decision making and increased competitive opportunities.

Gary Elliott, Chief Executive of the Aerospace Technology Institute, said:

The Fixed Trade Calculator developed by the Institute will be a unique capability for the UK supply chain.  Sharing a capability such as this, which has previously only been available to a small group of well-resourced manufacturers, will be a significant benefit to those working in UK aerospace. Now, through this online resource, UK suppliers will be able to understand more about how the technology they develop will impact the overall performance of representative narrow and wide-bodied aircraft.

In this short video, Dr Alice Stitt, Technologist within the Institute’s Whole Aircraft team, provides an introduction to the benefits and use of the Fixed Trade Calculator:

More information on the Fixed Trade Calculator, and details on how to apply for access, can be found here.



  • Nearly £54 million of investment over seven aerospace R&D projects
  • 300 delegates from UK and international aerospace sector convene in Birmingham for inaugural ATI Conference
  • ATI previews Fixed Trade Calculator – a new aircraft performance tool for the UK supply chain

Following the launch of the Industrial Strategy White Paper, Business Secretary Greg Clark has today announced £53.7 million of funding for seven R&D projects to grow innovation in the aerospace sector.  This is part of government’s work with industry through the Aerospace Growth Partnership (AGP) to tackle barriers to growth, boost exports and grow high value jobs.

The announcement comes as the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) holds its inaugural conference, Realising Ambition, at the NEC in Birmingham (28-29 November).  Over 300 delegates from across UK and international aerospace have gathered to hear an update on the ATI’s UK aerospace technology strategy, learn more about the technology of today and the future, and understand how to realise commercial opportunities in the global market.

Today’s announcement builds on the £923 million of Government investment delivered through the ATI programme, which has supported 196 projects involving 208 different companies and organisations.  Establishing the Institute in 2013, government and industry made a joint commitment to invest £3.9 billion in civil aerospace R&D projects by 2026.

Business Secretary Greg Clark said:

“Earlier this week, we launched our ambitious Industrial Strategy which builds on our significant economic strengths, while looking at innovative ways to improve our productivity and will ensure government continues to work closely with industry, including our UK aerospace sector.“The UK aerospace sector is one of the most successful in the world, with strengths in some of the most technologically advanced parts of aircraft.  To support this, we are today announcing £53.7 million of investment in seven aerospace research and development (R&D) projects across the UK.  This investment is part of the £3.9 billion government and industry committed to the sector by 2026.

The Aerospace Technology Institute plays a crucial role in helping to direct this investment and maintain UK excellence in the sector.

Gary Elliott, Chief Executive Officer of the Aerospace Technology Institute, said:

The ATI programme is dedicated to supporting the UK aerospace sector by leveraging joint Government and industry investment. To date, we have supported 196 projects, and have facilitated connections and collaborations across the sector and beyond.

This week the Institute was positively referenced in the Government’s Industrial Strategy white paper as an exemplar of a successful sector deal. Our technology strategy, Raising Ambition, seeks to encourage the UK aerospace sector to be more ambitious in the research programmes into new, advanced and disruptive technologies – particularly in the value streams of propulsion, aerostructures, systems and whole aircraft.

The projects announce today are a perfect example of that, and the fantastic response to the ATI Conference shows that the sector wants to come together and collaborate.

The Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) investment, delivered through the ATI programme in partnership with Innovate UK, will support collaborative research projects into aircraft power systems, new battery technology for storing and using energy, new ways to enhance cabin air quality, an open architecture for flight deck apps, innovative technologies for next-generation engines and the establishment of leading additive manufacturing test-bed facilities at two locations in the UK.

Partners involved in these projects include Airbus, Rolls-Royce, GE Aviation, Honeywell, Safran, the Manufacturing Technology Centre and a number of research organisations, universities and small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Speakers taking part in the conference include Paul Stein, Chief Technology Officer of Rolls-Royce; Mark Cousin, Senior Vice President of Flight Demonstrators at Airbus; Dr Jaiwon Shin, Associate Administrator for Aeronautics at NASA; Peter L. Hoffman, Vice President for Intellectual Property Management at Boeing; and other senior leaders from across the global aerospace sector.

Also being previewed at the ATI Conference 2017 is an aircraft performance tool to support the UK aerospace sector. The Institute’s new Fixed Trade Calculator enables assessment of the impact of novel technologies on representative conventional narrow- and wide-bodied aircraft. The online resource will inform discussion and support decision making by providing users with the fuel burn benefits, operating cost changes, and environmental impact in terms of CO2 for new technologies.

Gary Elliott said:

“The Fixed Trade Calculator developed by the Institute will be a unique capability for the UK supply chain.  Sharing a capability such as this, which has previously only been available to a small group of well-resourced manufacturers, will be a significant benefit to those working in UK aerospace. Now, through this online resource, UK suppliers will be able to understand more about how the technology they develop will impact the overall performance of representative narrow and wide-bodied aircraft.”


The projects announced today are:

  • The U-CAIR project, led by Honeywell in partnership with the National Physical Laboratory and Small and Medium Enterprises Gas Sensing Solutions and SST Sensing, is developing cabin air sensor technology to improve passengers’ cabin experience. The U-CAIR (UK ATI Cabin Air) project will not only create an improved passenger experience in large passenger aircraft, business jets and regional aircraft, but also allow for further fuel savings of up to 2000 litres on long haul flights. Receiving a grant of £2.3 million, this project will enable the UK to develop key technologies that will lead the market in passenger-friendly aircraft.
  • The Open Flight Deck project, led by GE Aviation, will seek to overcome the barriers to adopting new technologies on the flight deck; traditionally difficult to do because of the high cost of change and certification. Open Flight Deck will be an open platform that allows the OEM to work with a range of suppliers to develop ‘apps’ – easier to build, quicker to deploy, and with the potential for upgrade as new capabilities become possible. The consortium behind the project, which has received a grant of £13.1 million, also includes BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce, Coventry University and the University of Southampton.
  • The DRAMA (Digital Reconfigurable Additive Manufacturing facilities for Aerospace) project is led by the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) with partners ATS Global, Autodesk, Granta Design, Midlands Aerospace Alliance, National Physics Laboratory, Renishaw and the University of Birmingham. DRAMA will establish leading additive manufacturing ‘test bed’ facilities for the aerospace industry and its supply chain at the National Centre for Additive Manufacturing (based at the MTC in Coventry) and the Renishaw AM Solution Centre in Stone. The project will showcase the use of digital technologies to drive productivity and reliability in AM, leading to increased adoption of AM technologies by the aerospace sector and, in the long term, other industrial sectors. It will also deliver the world’s first digitally-twinned reconfigurable AM facility and establish the UK as a global leader in additive manufacturing technology. The project, part of the ATI programme, has received a grant of £11.2 million through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.
  • Building on the success of the Trent family of three shaft engines, Rolls-Royce has announced its intent to develop UltraFan™, a novel Ultra High Bypass Ratio (UHBR) geared architecture. This provides a significant improvement in propulsive efficiency and will be available for the next generation of aircraft. The DELICE (Design of Engineered Lightweight Innovative Casings for Engine) project provides a fundamental enabler for this new architecture in the design, development and manufacture of the world’s largest composite fan case, offering a low-speed and pressure ratio fan system.  Rolls-Royce will work in partnership with the National Composites Centre and the University of Oxford and use the UK manufacturing services supply chain to achieve this overall aim. The project has received a grant of £6 million.
  • The Power-Plant Integration with Platform Systems (PIPS) program will develop technologies in the UK to enable greater integration between the power-plant and airframe, resulting in a more capable and efficient aircraft. This programme shall specifically address structural, thermal/fluid and control system integration and the associated aircraft evaluation tools to quantify the benefits realised through greater integration. This will result in a lighter, more fuel efficient and environmentally friendly engine and aircraft of the future. Rolls-Royce’s key partners to successfully deliver this project are the University of Oxford, Cranfield University and Queens University, Belfast. The project has received a grant of £4.5 million.
  • The SMPP (Scalable Multi-Platform Power) project will establish More-Electric Aircraft electrical systems requirements for a range of aircraft types, and will develop systems and sub-systems that will work together to address power generation, power distribution/conversion, and flight critical power consumption. The consortium – led by Safran Electrical & Power UK in partnership with Rolls-Royce, GE Aviation, Raytheon and UTC Aerospace Systems – will encourage airframers to contribute to and evaluate the work performed by the consortium. The project has received a grant of £13 million.
  • The Zephyr Innovation Programme (ZIP) was created as a strategic R&D project to develop new cutting-edge component technologies to support Airbus’s Zephyr High Altitude Pseudo Satellite (HAPS). ZIP is led by Airbus in partnership with Axillium Research, Formtech Composites, Productiv, OXIS Energy, Newcastle University and Cranfield University. The grant of £3.6 million will support the development of key technologies in aerostructures, battery technology and energy storage, and propulsion that will enable flight performance improvements, expanding the operational capabilities of the next generation of Airbus Zephyr.

The Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) has provided Meggitt PLC with £3.7 million of Government funding to finance research and development in advanced thermal systems technology for next-generation energy efficient ultra-high bypass ratio (UHBR) aero engines.

The co-funded programme will focus on developing innovative new technologies which will enable the design of increasingly lighter, more compact thermal management solutions to maximise aero engine performance.

ATI’s Chief Executive Officer Gary Elliott said:

We are pleased to support this project to deliver novel heat management technology, which is a key enabler for next-generation engines. It demonstrates the UK’s technological capability in a challenging but strategic area.

Hugh Clayton, Meggitt PLC Group Director, Engineering & Strategy added:

Meggitt is grateful for this ATI funding as we continue our focus on developing heat exchangers for the next generation of engines for passenger aircraft. This technology is an important enabler for more efficient and quieter air travel.

Please click here to download the full press release.

The inaugural Aero Engine Forum has taken place in Birmingham, bringing a major international focus to the event that was held at the International Convention Centre. The conference was chaired by the Midlands Aerospace Alliance, hosting prominent engine makers and tier one companies, showcasing supply chain opportunities, and explaining what technologies and capabilities they need from their suppliers.

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The ATI and EPSRC are hosting a symposium to explore the findings of research into future disruptive technologies in aerospace, particularly those focused on hybrid-electric and electric aircraft. The event will share findings from four EPSRC-supported studies that have been scoping key issues towards future electric aircraft. Focused on themes identified by the ATI, the six-month studies covered structures, propulsion, systems, and environment & economics. The findings will be presented by the lead universities: University of Bristol, Cranfield University, Newcastle University and UCL.

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Last year the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) shared insights of its attendance at the Swedish Aerospace Technology Congress 2016 through a blog post highlighting the opportunities for collaborative projects between UK and Swedish partners.

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The ATI (last month) attended the 2017 SAE Aerospace Standards Summit (focusing on emerging technologies and the enabling role of standards) which brought together civil and military regulators, aerospace industry leaders and subject matter experts. the event provided a platform to discuss the role of standards to support the adoption of new and emerging technologies such as IoT and Digital Manufacturing, Novel Vertical Flight, Model Based Systems Engineering (MBSE), Cybersecurity, Wireless Networking and Nano Materials. Several topics presented at the event are key initiatives for the ATI, including, cybersecurity, digital transformation and the increasing complexity of MBSE and High Value Design which align with the Institute’s technology strategy Raising Ambition.

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The Departments for International Trade (DIT) and Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), together with Boeing, organised for a UK delegation (which included the Aerospace Technology Institute and up to 40 UK aerospace supply chain companies) to attend a two-day Boeing Technology Showcase in Seattle on 25th and 26th April.

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Natasha joined the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) in February this year to support the Executive Management team and manage the Institute’s central London office. As Executive Assistant, part of the Operations team, Natasha’s role is central to the efficient running of the business. Her highly organised manner and helpful nature enables Natasha to provide support across the ATI.

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