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ATI: Open for business and supporting UK aerospace

The ATI is helping UK aerospace to face the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic

By Gary Elliott

04 May 2020 02:30:PM
Read time: 3 mins

As the global aerospace sector, and indeed much of the world, continues to feel the impact from Covid-19, it was heartening to see the level of interest in the Institute’s most recent research funding opportunities.

Submissions to April’s expression of interest for the ATI Programme were up by around 250%; while a webinar hosted by the Institute with Innovate UK and Innovair, the Swedish strategic programme for aeronautics, on a funding opportunity to boost UK-Sweden collaboration had nearly 200 attendees.

There are two key positives to take from this. The first is that companies continue to look at research & technology programmes as a core part of their strategy. It is sadly inevitable that some projects will be put on hold or cancelled in the short term as companies manage the effects of the economic slowdown, but all of the conversations we are having with the sector are focused on how research will provide the foundation for future recovery.

This is good for those companies and also good for the UK. Our own analysis has shown that the spillovers from R&T (those benefits that derive from the research that are not captured by those directly involved) make a significant contribution to society at large: with a social return of around 70% compared to the 15% return that comes to those involved in the project.

In addition, much of the research now being explored as part of companies’ recovery plans are focused on sustainable aviation and green technologies, which the Institute has championed in our strategy for UK aerospace. We believe that roadmaps outlined in our Accelerating Ambition strategy remain broadly right, but we will review them as appropriate in the coming months, looking to do our part to improve the supply chain’s resilience.

The second positive is that companies are continuing to engage with the Institute. That we are seen as an asset and a resource for UK aerospace is great, and we would encourage more companies to speak to us about how we can help. We remain open for business.

I am pleased to say that we are also having constructive conversations with Government about how best to leverage the capabilities within the Institute and the ATI Programme. We are actively exploring a number of measures and hope to be able to report on those soon. These are ambitious in nature and demonstrate the strength of the UK’s Aerospace Growth Partnership (AGP).

It is important to watch for those positive signs, but the challenge facing the global aerospace sector cannot be understated – it is the most difficult time in the history of aviation. To help assess the extent of that challenge, the Institute has collated information from several reports and sources to map the impact across the global sector, available here; we hope this is a useful resource for companies reviewing their restart and recovery plans, and we will be keeping it updated.

The Institute is here for UK aerospace and I hope that any organisation within the sector will know that they can speak to us for help and advice on their current or future research plans.