Following our first INSIGHT _01 paper which looked at Digital Transformation, the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) is delighted to present INSIGHT 02 & 03,

focusing on Emerging Technologies for Propulsion and Commercial Aircraft Systems. These papers have been compiled to provide a technology watch on developing technologies that are not necessarily integral to the ATI technology strategy (as published in the 2016 document Raising Ambition), but may impact future delivery of the strategy.

The topics covered are a selection of technologies which illustrate some of the diverse areas covered by propulsion and aircraft systems, but are not intended to be an exhaustive list. The papers identify some key trends and areas of focus which will be important for the aerospace sector to meet forecast market opportunities and deliver economic impact in the UK.

Mark Scully, ATI’s Head of Technology for Propulsion and Systems has been working with the Institute’s Specialist Advisory Groups (SAG) to gather insights and examples of emerging technologies that could benefit Propulsion of the Future, and Smart, Connected and More Electric Aircraft, and are relevant to ATI Whole Aircraft Attributes. These include, cost; fuel efficiency; safety; environment; operational needs and flexibility; and passenger experience.

Mark said:

Aircraft over the next 30 – 50 years will look and perform differently to what we see today. Much of the design, development and manufacturing will focus around greener, smarter, and more electric aircraft.

Noise is a specific target for ACARE (Advisory Council for Aviation Research and Innovation in Europe) Flightpath 2050, and continued research to develop active noise control, noise annoyance metrics, noise simulation and measurement, and deployment of novel ATM (Air Traffic Management) to reduce noise impacts, should be watched to ensure targets for aerospace can be achieved.

The trend towards aircraft electrical power systems for propulsion is driven by fuel costs and environmental pressures. Another benefit of electrical power systems is the potential to simplify maintenance through system health monitoring and self-diagnostic systems.

Several of these topics identified in the Commercial Aircraft Systems paper have complementary activity in other industries and sectors outside of aerospace. There is an opportunity in the UK to convene systems capability to focus activity in delivering timely solutions, meeting multiple industry and sector needs. In some cases, this is already underway, but there are still some gaps to consider. The paper (INSIGHT 03) highlights four specific gaps; safety-critical software; multi-core processors; electrical system technologies; and artificial intelligence & cyber security.

The outcomes of the initial ATI cyber security workshop (April 2017) revealed some interesting views and insights, with common challenges being identified across the sector, and opportunities discussed. You can read the full blog post here.

For further information on emerging technologies in the aerospace sector please contact

Please click here to download a copy of the publications.