Dowty Propellers to build new headquarters, plant in UK

The new composite propeller manufacturing facility, in the Gloucester area, will replace the company’s headquarters that was lost to a fire in February 2015. Dowty also will invest £20 million in a technology development effort.

Dowty Propellers (Gloucester, UK), a  manufacturer of composite aircraft propeller systems for civil and military applications, has announced approvals to create a new facility in the Gloucester area. This follows a fire in February 2015 that destroyed its operating headquarters and blade manufacturing facility. It is expected that the new facility will be operational in 2019.

The location will be determined by the end of 2017 on completion of a tender process to ensure that the best combination of cost and efficiency can be achieved.

Dowty Propellers has also announced the commencement of a £20 million technology development project to deliver capabilities for both propeller systems and future propulsion systems. The project, Digital Propulsion, is match funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial strategy through the Aerospace Technology Institute Programme, with a grant of £9.5 million, and overseen by Innovate UK. Partners include the National Composites Centre, the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre and the Manufacturing Technology Centre.

UK business minister Richard Harrington says, “Dowty Propellers’ decision to set up a new facility demonstrates the sustained strength of the UK’s aerospace sector as well as growing quality skilled local jobs. Boosting innovation is a key part of our modern industrial strategy. That’s why the government is supporting Dowty Propellers’ new technology project, helping to secure investment and future export success.”

Gary Elliot, CEO of the Aerospace Technology Institute, says, “A key focus of the ATI strategy for UK aerospace technology is defining the propulsion of the future: advanced technologies that will enable reductions in noise and fuel burn. Dowty Propellers’ Digital Propulsion project, through its state-of-the-art digital infrastructure to develop and manufacture propellers, is an integral part of delivering that strategy and building on the UK capability in this important area”.

“We are delighted to be continuing our long history with the Gloucester area,” says Oliver Towers, president of Dowty Propellers. “The decision to stay in this area was driven by the capabilities and commitment of our workforce that stretches back over 80 years. This decision, along with our launch of the UK-supported Digital Propulsion project, will enable us to maintain our position as a world leader in propeller systems with the latest technology, supported by world-class research and development.”

These two projects, including the new facility and the technology development, represent the largest ever investment in Dowty Propellers, and demonstrate the future potential of its people and products.

“Our new facility will maintain close ties to our existing workforce and supply network and will incorporate the latest GE Brilliant Factory philosophy,” Towers says.

Dowty Propellers has been operating in its interim facility at Mitcheldean since early November 2015, where manufacturing capabilities for its composite propeller blades have been reestablished. The team will remain at the interim facility and will transfer to the new facility when it is operational in 2019. Dowty Propellers currently has about 340 employees in the Gloucester area.

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