Aerospace manufacturing projects secure £90m in government backing

The funding has been targeted at lightweight plane component development

The funding has been targeted at lightweight plane component development

Ministers claim funding for aerospace manufacturing projects can support drive towards net zero emission aviation

Aerospace R&D projects aimed at boosting efficiencies, creating jobs, and driving green innovation across the plane manufacturing sector are among successful bidders sharing £90m of new backing from the UK government, which claimed the funding would help the wider industry “build back greener” from the Covid-19 crisis.

The government announced five projects on Friday which would share the new funding, as part of a package it claimed could secure 1,400 jobs across the stricken aerospace and aviation sector, which has been hit hard by the pandemic-related travel restrictions over the past year.

The funding is being channelled through the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) Programme, which aims to improve manufacturing within the industry by developing technology to make production lines quicker, more efficient, and cost-effective, according to the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

A particular focus of the latest funding announced on Friday is on creating lightweight materials and parts for planes that can help to reduce how much fuel is used, and which could potentially be adopted onto future hybrid and electric planes, it explained.

“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,” said Aviation Minister Robert Courts. “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.” 

Among those securing funding are the Bristol-based ASCEND project – which stands for Aerospace and Automotive Supply Chain Enabled Development – which has secured a £19.6m grant matched by £20m from industry to develop technologies and tools for manufacturing lightweight composites for sustainable aircraft, cars and future mobility.

The consortium’s work, which is led by GKN Aerospace and includes manufacturers such as McLaren Automotive, could help support the rapid growth in low emission aircraft and automotive sectors as hybrid and electric aircraft concepts become mainstream, the government said.

In addition, £24.4m of investment over four years – encompassing a £13.2m government grant match-funded by industry – has been offered to a Gloucestershire project which aims to develop a 3D metal printing machine to build larger aerospace components and mass produce smaller parts.

The consortium leading the project – dubbed LAMDA – said it hoped the project would help to reduce manufacturing costs as well as helping produce smaller, lighter components to help contribute to the development of net zero aviation technologies.

Minister for Small Business, Consumers, and Labour Markets Paul Scully said the multi-million-pound cash injection would “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,” he added.