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Airbus Future Wing Programme

  • Wednesday, 23rd November 2011
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The UK Department of Trade and Industry announced £2.6 million of DTI funding to help a partnership led by Airbus UK, develop further wing technology for future generations of passenger jets.

The CASCADE project will be led from Airbus UK’s engineering centre at Filton near Bristol and will further develop techniques in using composite materials in civil aircraft wings. The DTI funding will be matched by industry partners. CASCADE will enhance the UK’s future capability in a key area of design and manufacturing technology and enable the UK to maintain its civil airliner wing design leadership.

The DTI’s aeronautics research programme encourages partnerships within the aeronautics industry to undertake long-term research in aeronautics technologies. It builds on the excellent science base in the UK by generating and pulling through technology and know-how for the benefit of the UK aeronautics industry. CASCADE follows on from a previous DTI project on composite structures (called AMCAPS – Affordable Manufacture of Composite Aircraft Primary Structure) that has resulted in several key achievements, most notably the manufacture of composite wing box components. This research is being exploited to improve aircraft weight, cost and design.

The CASCADE Project’s programme of work will focus on issues that currently limit design together with issues related to reducing cost, new processes in manufacturing and strategies in materials selection. As well as Airbus UK, the project will be carried out in partnership with four other partners. The main collaborative partner is QinetiQ which has a major role in providing underpinning technologies to the project. Three other organisations active in aerospace composite materials and component engineering are also partners – the INBIS Group, the Advanced Composite Group and W & J Tod.

Minister Alan Johnson, who is supporting the UK aerospace industry at Farnborough today said: “This is good news all round. The research will lead to improvements in commercial aircraft design, and reduce aircraft weight, cost, fuel consumption and noise. I am delighted that government can support and invest in such a valuable project.

“The UK is already a world leader in wing technology and this funding will help to underpin this strong position. This Filton-led project demonstrates once again the aeronautics expertise we have in the South West. This is a boost for the Bristol area and will enhance the competitiveness of other UK companies and suppliers involved in this partnership.”

Tom Williams, Managing Director and General Manager Airbus UK said: “This is the next step in a rolling technology programme at Airbus UK. With each new aircraft development the use of composite materials increases and this is a trend that will continue in the future.” Composites technology is recognised as having the potential to provide major benefits for the design of to future commercial aircraft. Further research in this area is needed to build upon existing technology and to develop and exploit new low-cost composite materials.


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