GKN Aerospace has joined industry partners Airbus, AgustaWestland, Rolls-Royce, Umeco and Vestas in celebrating the official opening of the UK’s National Composites Centre (NCC) today. The 8500m2 NCC facility is situated close to three of GKN Aerospace’s major composite manufacturing operations serving the global aerospace sector – at Filton and Western Approach in Bristol, and Cowes on the Isle of Wight.
Marcus Bryson, CEO and President, GKN Aerospace and GKN Land Systems commented: “We are a founding member of the UK’s National Composites Network, launched in 2005 and are committed to the Government’s National Composites Strategy. This new centre will be a vital resource for the UK, assisting in extending the expertise of our manufacturing sector in the highly skilled and evolving area of composites manufacture. It will be a key resource for us at GKN Aerospace as we and our team of suppliers work to maximise the UK’s involvement in the growing global aerospace market over the next 30 to 40 years.”
GKN Aerospace has already based a 15 member composites research team at the NCC. These engineers are working on research programmes such as the CleanSky initiative, developing new composite technologies to extend the performance and lower the emissions of future aircraft.
GKN Aerospace has been an important force internationally in driving forward the use of composites in aviation and is expanding the application of new automated manufacturing techniques that will enable faster and more consistent manufacture of complex composite structures. These techniques will be critical if the industry is to meet rising future worldwide market demand for new aircraft – and for aircraft that offer improved performance, lower emissions and lower maintenance requirements. A number of new GKN Aerospace-developed automated manufacturing technologies are already in use for the first time at the company’s Western Approach facility where wing structures are being manufactured for the Airbus A350XWB. The company is the leading independent supplier of composite structures to the global aerospace sector supporting UK-based companies such as Airbus and Boeing as well as a wide range of international customers.
Created by the South West RDA, Bristol University and the industrial partners, with funding from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (£12m), the South West RDA (Regional Development Agency) (£4m) and £9m from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the NCC is a purpose-built facility with workshop space, open-plan offices, meeting rooms and teaching facilities. It is an independent, open-access national centre delivering world-class innovation in the design and rapid manufacture of composites and enabling widespread industrial exploitation. The NCC has the latest, state-of-the-art machinery, including a world-leading £2.5m automatic fibre placement robotic system – and as importantly, the people with the skills and experience to make best use of these capabilities.