GKN Aerospace to lead wing technology research

GKN Aerospace will lead a 13-partner, 27-month effort to work on bringing promising composite wing design, manufacture and assembly technologies close to market readiness,

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GKN Aerospace (East Cowes, Isle of Wight, U.K.) reported on Nov. 17 that it will lead a 13-partner, 27-month, GBP30m future wing research program, backed by the U.K.’s Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI). The VIEWS (Validation and Integration of Manufacturing Enablers for Future Wing Structures) program will bring promising wing design, manufacture and assembly technologies close to market readiness, while selecting some novel technologies for further development.

VIEWS will progress technologies that have emerged from the recently completed STeM (Structures Technology Maturity) research program. Also led by GKN Aerospace, STeM has identified processes that could reduce by 20 percent the cost of manufacture and assembly of a typical composite box structure.

Simon Weeks, chief technology officer of the institute, says, “The STeM collaborative R&T program, managed by GKN Aerospace, demonstrated the very best in terms of innovation and promise for the future.”

The work of the new VIEWS program will span manufacturing and assembly processes including: identifying and defining future manufacturing requirements to produce novel wing architectures; assessing tools that will improve product and process design and enhance the flow of production; progressing a variety of emerging composite and metallic manufacturing and assembly technologies and processes; and studying innovative inspection and repair tools. In the final stages, the partner companies will produce test demonstrators to validate the maturity of key technologies.

The VIEWS team includes four industrial partners: GKN Aerospace, Bombardier Aerospace, Spirit AeroSystems, and GE Aviation; five of the UK’s high-value manufacturing catapult centres: the National Composites Centre, the Manufacturing Technology Centre, the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (the University of Sheffield), the Warwick Manufacturing Group (the University of Warwick) and the Advanced Forming Research Centre (the University of Strathclyde); and the Universities of Nottingham, Bath, Bristol and Sheffield Hallam.

Rich Oldfield, technical director, GKN Aerospace, explains: “Through the Institute the U.K. aerospace sector is able to work together effectively to develop promising technologies and processes that will help us maintain our position as the strongest national aerospace industry outside the USA. STeM saw us make valuable progress and VIEWS will work from that base, taking us nearer to market readiness with a new generation of automated processes and technologies that will extend what we in the U.K. are able to manufacture, at the same time as increasing the quality, consistency and speed of production.”