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Research Centre for Aerospace opens at Cranfield University

18 October 2017

The new Aerospace Integration Research Centre that will develop and test concepts for future aircraft and airspace opened today (18th October) at Cranfield University.

This central hub for aerospace research, a joint investment between Airbus, Rolls Royce and Cranfield University, with funds awarded from Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), will strengthen the UK’s aerospace research capability, accelerating aerospace innovation to application through its strong industry-academia collaboration.

The Centre has a 1500m2 Open Space laboratory for research on full-scale aircraft and components and provides leading research technologies including visualisation screens, flight simulators and an air traffic management simulator, laboratories specific to aerial autonomous vehicles and includes a production standard A320 for research and validation of automated assembly techniques.

Professor Sir Peter Gregson, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive, Cranfield University, said: “Facilities such as the AIRC mean Cranfield is at the forefront of changing the way the world thinks about flight. Greater integration between research and world-renowned businesses provides us with the opportunity to tackle some of aerospace’s grand challenges by providing the technologies, facilities and skills that are needed to succeed.”

Trevor Higgs, Head of Landing Gear and UK Senior Site Representative, Airbus, said: “We at Airbus see the AIRC as a key part of the growing research ecosystem the aerospace industry has in the UK, and will help us foster closer relationships with research partners and to accelerate and deliver on our research strategy for the Wing of Tomorrow, to make sure our products remain the best in world.”

Henner Wapenhans, Director of Technology Strategy, Rolls-Royce, added: “We are delighted to be a lead partner with Airbus in the Aerospace Integration Research Centre, which will also strengthen the existing strategic partnership between Rolls-Royce and Cranfield University.
“This new Centre will help develop the next generation of highly skilled engineers and will play an important role in developing the innovative technologies needed to enhance performance, improve efficiency and reduce emissions of future aircraft.”

David Sweeney, Director (Research and Knowledge Exchange), HEFCE, said: “The AIRC is an excellent example of the government’s industrial strategy in action, linking research to industry needs which is what the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund supports.  The high-class facilities and the world-leading research at Cranfield University will contribute directly to the growth of the aerospace industry and the wider UK economy.”

Research at the AIRC also draws on the full capabilities of Cranfield University, including their on-site airport, National Flying Laboratory Centre, large scale gas turbine test area and Cranfield’s School of Management. 

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