£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 have the potential to help secure 1400 jobs across the UK

1400 jobs could be secured across the UK thanks to nearly £90 million investment in aerospace manufacturing announced today by Business Minister Paul Scully (Friday 12 March).

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 1400 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.

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.

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 Programme.

Notes to Editors

The ATI Programme’s grant winners have been chosen by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Innovate UK, and the Aerospace Technology Institute. The total investment in the projects will be £88.7 million, with £44.1 million coming from government and £44.6 million from industry.

Aviation has a crucial role to play in achieving the government’s net zero commitment. To this end, other government support for the aerospace industry includes:

  • Funding £125 million of grants, matched by industry, through the Future Flight Challenge, for companies to invest in future aviation systems and vehicle technologies that enable new classes of electric or autonomous air vehicles.
  • The establishment of the Jet Zero Council, a partnership between industry and government to bring together ministers and industry stakeholders to drive the ambitious delivery of new technologies and innovative ways to cut aviation emissions.
  • Funding FlyZero, a research project delivered through the Aerospace Technology Institute bringing together experts from industry and academia to determine the future viability and capability of and market for zero-carbon emission commercial aircraft.

During the pandemic, aerospace companies have been able to benefit from the government’s extensive business support measures including furlough, CBILs, and Bounce Back loans. The aerospace sector and its aviation customers are being supported with almost £11 billion made available through loan guarantees, support for exporters, the Bank of England’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility and grants for research and development.

Details of the projects receiving funding today:

GKN Aerospace-led ASCEND (Aerospace and Automotive Supply Chain Enabled Development) [Bristol]

£39.6m investment over three years – £19.6m government grant, £20m from industry.
The consortium behind ASCEND aims to develop innovative technologies, processes, and tools for the high-rate manufacture of lightweight composites for sustainable aircraft, cars and future mobility. The project will focus on increasing automation and skills to support the reduction of carbon emissions across these industries. ASCEND will help support the rapid growth in the low-emissions aerospace and automotive sectors, as hybrid and electric aircraft and new mobility concepts become more mainstream. The project will keep the UK at the forefront of this technology development and ensure it remains competitive in the global market.
If successful, the project could help secure 729 design and manufacturing jobs by 2033/34, with the majority based in Bristol and Dorset.

Renishaw-led LAMDA (Large Scale Additive Manufacturing for Defence and Aerospace) [Gloucestershire]

£26.4m investment over four years – £13.2m government grant, matched by industry.
This project aims to develop a 3D metal printing machine which can be used to build larger aerospace components and mass produce smaller parts. This will reduce costs by delivering higher production rates. By exploiting superior material properties and innovative design, this will enable the manufacturing of smaller, lighter components, contributing towards net zero aviation.
If successful, the project could create or secure a peak of 240 design and manufacturing jobs in Gloucestershire, Wales, Blackburn, Bristol, Coventry, and Poole.

Airbus-led Smarter Testing [Filton, Gloucestershire]

£10.6m investment over three years – £5.3m government grant, matched by industry.
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. This will strongly rely on the expertise and skills developed within this project by the industrial partners and an extended support network of academic and research organisations.
If successful, this project could help to secure a peak of 98 jobs across the consortium in 2029-30 in Filton, Gloucestershire, and elsewhere in the UK.

Thales-led COREF (Connected Reconfigurable Factory) [Crawley and Belfast]

£10.4m investment over three years – £5.2m government grant, matched by industry.
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. The Crawley laboratory will concentrate on digital innovation, while the laboratory in Belfast will concentrate on manufacturing. These facilities will be accessible to the supply chain and the public through partner invitation.
COREF will create or safeguard 25 research and development jobs throughout the life of the project and up to 18 manufacturing-related jobs post-project. These will be spread across the UK but concentrated around Crawley and Belfast.

Q5D-led LiveWire [Portishead, North Somerset]

£1.7m investment over three years – £0.8m government grant, £0.9m from industry.
Wiring in aircraft, cars and many consumer electrical goods is done by hand. It is an expensive and laborious process that is prone to errors that can cause failures and sometimes even fires. The aim of this project is to automate this complex process to reduce or remove the manual handling required. Doing this will create lighter more efficient wiring for higher performance, eventually at a lower cost. Automation will provide safety improvements via repeatability and increased design analysis.
If successful, the project could help to secure over 300 jobs in R&D, design and manufacturing by 2029/30 in the UK in the project team and wider supply chain.