Mark Prisk MP, Minister of State for Business and Enterprise opened a facility on the Isle of Wight that will develop new composite aero engine components.
The £14.8m facility will employ 70 highly skilled engineers and has been supported with £7.4m in funding from the UK Government.
The facility has been developed by CTAL, a joint venture between Rolls-Royce and GKN Aerospace, to pilot pioneering manufacturing processes for aero-engine fan blades and fan-cases made of composite materials. Lighter, but as strong as traditional metal components, composite blades and cases could improve aero-engine performance and reduce their environmental impact by reducing the overall weight of the engine.
Business Minister Mark Prisk said:
“The UK has the world’s largest aerospace industry outside the USA with a 17 per cent share of the global market, which is worth approximately £23bn per year to our nation’s economy.
“I am pleased to officially open this state-of-the-art facility and to see for myself the work of GKN Aerospace and Rolls-Royce in developing sustainable aviation technologies that will have benefits for marine, health, construction and energy sectors.
“It is ventures like this that are helping to place Britain as a world leader in the growth area of low carbon solutions, while affirming our commitment to providing the technological needs of the future.“
Marcus Bryson, CEO and President, GKN Aerospace and GKN Land Systems explains: “The processes we develop here will be at the heart of the drive to improve the performance of tomorrow’s aircraft engines. This facility will help us ensure we and our supply chain sustain the level of technological progress necessary to meet major global aero-engine opportunities in the future. The UK’s aerospace industry is the home of many pioneering aerospace technologies and is one of the country’s leading exporters. Events such as this are a clear reminder of the positive impact we have, and must continue to have, on the UK economy. This is also a clear demonstration of our commitment to the UK government’s growth agenda for the manufacturing sector.”
Colin Smith, Rolls-Royce, Director of Engineering said: “Rolls-Royce maintains a long term commitment to research and development, with a particular focus on reducing the emissions from our products. This state-of-the-art facility gives us an opportunity to develop world leading composite technology and manufacturing techniques. These high technology lightweight components have the potential to significantly improve the competitiveness of our engines and hence reduce the fuel consumption and emissions of future aircraft. “
The development of lightweight, composite components is becoming increasingly important as the aerospace industry strives to reduce fuel consumption and emissions.
The new facility supports the final stages of work through the UK government funded Environmental Lightweight Fan (ELF) collaborative research programme. The goal of this programme, which commenced in 2007, has been to develop, prove and bring to market readiness advanced, high-rate production processes for new carbon fibre engine fan blades. These blades will improve aircraft performance and reduce engine emissions. This final phase is focused on optimising volume manufacturing processes and is complemented by the addition of lightweight fan systems work under the ‘SILOET’ (Strategic Investment in LOw-carbon Engine Technology) collaborative research programme, also UK government funded. This programme aims to accelerate the development and introduction of low carbon aircraft engine technology with a consequent effect on engine fuel economy and emissions.
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