GKN Aerospace is heading up a new UK industry consortium called ASCEND (Aerospace and Automotive Supply Chain Enabled Development) to develop and accelerate composite material and process technologies for the next generation of energy efficient aircraft and future mobility.
The £40m ($55.65m) consortium, funded by a £20.0M ($27.82m) commitment from industry and a £19.6M ($27.27m) commitment from the UK Government via ATI, will focus on greater adoption of composite technologies today, the industrialization of new technologies, as well as accelerating aerospace production rates to meet future high-volume requirements. The collaboration will help develop technologies from across the UK supply-chain to develop the advanced materials and automation equipment required to manufacture lightweight structures for the sustainable air mobility, aerospace and automotive industry.
Assyst Bullmer, Airborne, Cobham Mission Systems Wimborne, Cygnet Texkimp, Des Composites, FAR-UK Ltd, Hexcel Composites, Hive Composites, LMAT, Loop Technology, McLaren Automotive, the National Composites Centre, Rafinex, Sigmatex (UK) and Solvay Composite Materials will join GKN Aerospace in the consortium with collaboration and investment support from Axillium Research. Through a 3-year commitment, the partnership, backed by the UK government, will bring together expertise, capabilities and resources from across the wider UK aerospace and automotive supply chain. In doing so, ASCEND will strengthen the UK’s position as a technology leader in future lightweight structures and help to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions in the aerospace and automotive industry.
The consortium will be led from GKN Aerospace’s Global Technology Centre in Bristol and will support up to 130 jobs through 2023/24. GKN Aerospace will use its long-term experience and in-depth knowledge of composite engineering for integrated airframe structures throughout the project.
“GKN Aerospace has deep knowledge and expertise in composite technology and we are proud to lead this consortium. Accelerating the next-generation of lightweight, cost effective advanced composite technologies is critical for the aerospace and automotive industry and its move to more energy-efficient aircraft and vehicles,” said John Pritchard, president Civil Airframe GKN Aerospace. “Ensuring we can not only develop these technologies, but also manufacture them at high-rate across the UK supply chain, will maintain our position as an industry leader and underpin our commitment to sustainability. Combined with the Aerospace Technology Institute, which is providing vital support for the UK’s position on the next generation of aircraft, we will be able to deliver breakthroughs in technology as well as benchmark levels of price, quality and repeatability.“