ATI comms • 12.03.21 • 4 min read

£90 million boost to fire up aerospace manufacturing

  • Five innovative aerospace projects backed by nearly £90 million investment set to revolutionize aerospace manufacturing in the UK
  • State-of-the-art technology including 3D printing machines will be crucial to help industry build back better and greener from COVID-19
  • Projects being funded today through the ATI Programme have the potential to help secure 1,400 jobs across the UK

The government-industry funding for the five projects through the Aerospace Technology Institute Programme aims to improve manufacturing within the aerospace industry, developing technology to make production lines quicker, more efficient, and more cost-effective. This will safeguard the UK’s manufacturing sector, ensuring that the UK remains a competitive market for aerospace companies as we recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

Successful projects could help to secure approximately 1,400 jobs across the UK, from Bristol to Belfast, and South Wales to Somerset, improving local growth and benefitting communities.

Minister for Business Paul Scully said:

This multi-million-pound cash injection will safeguard vital jobs and support the aerospace sector as it builds back stronger after the pandemic. Manufacturing is at the very heart of UK industry, and innovative processes will ensure that the UK is at the forefront of global efforts as we develop technology that can power a green aviation revolution.

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

These projects, funded by the Aerospace Technology Institute, deliver two of the core elements of our strategy: competitiveness and sustainability. The projects will ensure that the UK remains globally competitive in the manufacturing of key aerospace technologies, while also introducing new processes and materials to support future zero-emission flight. They also demonstrate the breadth of our ambitions: supporting innovation across both large and small projects, facilitating collaborations with non-aerospace sectors, and securing jobs throughout the UK.

A particular focus of the project proposals is on creating lightweight materials and parts that will reduce how much fuel is used and that can be adopted onto future hybrid and electric planes. This will help the wider aerospace industry build back greener as it innovates and adapts to more sustainable travel over the next few decades.

Projects receiving funding today include:

  • GKN Aerospace-led ASCEND [Bristol]: With McLaren Automotive also joining the consortium, the project is seeking to develop and accelerate new lightweight, composite technology, including parts for aircraft wings, in the aerospace and automotive sectors, and improve supply chains for more sustainable future mobility solutions.
  • Renishaw-led LAMDA [Gloucestershire]: The project will develop a 3D metal printing machine to mass produce smaller components for aircraft, increasing production and consistency and reducing costs. Manufacturing will take place in South Wales.
  • Q5D-led LiveWire [North Somerset]: The project will create a machine that can automate the manufacture of wiring and embed it into aircraft parts including airline seats or even a control panel in a flight deck, reducing costs and making lighter, higher-quality components. The technology will provide new employment opportunities in the UK, and on-shore jobs previously undertaken abroad.
  • Airbus-led Smarter Testing [Filton, Gloucestershire]: The Smarter Testing project aims to develop a novel test and certification process for aeronautical structures, which will combine virtual and physical tests to provide a step reduction in development lead-time and costs. The partners intend to use this opportunity to build a ‘Centre of Excellence’ for Smarter Testing in the UK.
  • Thales-led COREF (Connected Reconfigurable Factory) [Crawley and Belfast]: This project will focus on Industry 4.0 (‘smart’) tools & processes for low-volume, high-complexity manufacturing, creating two open-access, digitally-connected innovation laboratories. These will enable companies to increase the productivity and efficiency of their electronic systems design and assembly processes, while reducing costs.

Aviation Minister Robert Courts said:

Net Zero aviation is the future and this cash injection will boost capabilities as we look to build back greener and make businesses sustainable in the future. We are committed to working closely with industry, including through the Jet Zero Council, to accelerate the development of new aviation technology and Sustainable Aviation Fuels to help us realise net zero flight.

The government will help advance the UK’s future transport system through its extensive R&D Roadmap and to increase R&D public spending to £22 billion per year by 2024/5. This investment comes ahead of the consultation on the Aviation Decarbonisation Strategy this year, set out as part of the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan for a green industrial revolution, with jet zero and low carbon aviation as a key pillar to building back greener.

The announcement of today’s grant winners forms part of a wider £3.9 billion government-industry investment in aerospace research and development projects from 2013 to 2026 through the Aerospace Growth Partnership and delivered through the ATI