AgustaWestland launches new R&D programme supported by £10m UK Government grant

AgustaWestland launches new R&D programme supported by £10m UK Government grant 22 Jul, 11, Source: AgustaWestland

It was announced that the Government has awarded AgustaWestland, a Finmeccanica company, a total of £10 million in research and development grants that will be delivered through the Technology Strategy Board. The funding will go towards a new programme consisting of three R&D projects. The programme will ensure that the UK maintains its leading position for research, design and development in the fast growing civil helicopter sector. The Next Generation Vertical Lift programme will encompass three R&D projects focusing on main and tail rotor blades, transmission systems and flight trials.

The novel and innovative technologies to be researched, developed and delivered as part of the programme include soft beam main rotor blades, innovative blade damper technology, fit and forget gearboxes, real time rotor blade health monitoring and greener more sustainable helicopter transmission systems. Luciano Marcocci, Chief Technical Officer, AgustaWestland said “This project will enable AgustaWestland retains its position at the forefront of rotorcraft technology, helping to secure high value manufacturing jobs in the UK. As we enter challenging times it is vital that AgustaWestland retains its key technological skills so that we can succeed in future markets.”

AgustaWestland will collaborate with SMEs including Shearline Ltd and with the Universities of Bristol and Liverpool who will lead on specific Research and Development (R&D) activities, further strengthening AgustaWestland’s links with SMEs and key academic research establishments in the UK. This programme of work will also strengthen AgustaWestland’s engagement with other leading manufacturers as a Tier 1 partner in the recently formed National Composites Centre (NCC) in Bristol, which has been selected to become part of the new High Value Manufacturing Technology Innovation Centre, delivered by the Technology Strategy Board, These facilities are vital for keeping UK manufacturing at the cutting edge of technology today and in future.

The Next Generation Vertical Lift programme
This is a three year collaborative programme that builds on the success of two earlier projects supported by the Technology Strategy Board. Rotor Embedded Actuator Control Technology (REACT) and Rotorcraft Technology Validation Programme (RTVP) both of which are focussed on developing features that significantly improve helicopter blade performance, vibration control and vehicle health management.

Development of these technologies are key aspects of the UK aerospace industry’s National Aerospace Technology Strategy (NATS), which aims to deliver world leading technologies in the UK to the global market

The Next Generation Vertical Lift programme will also be instrumental in helping to secure key vertical lift research, design, development and manufacturing jobs in the UK for the current and next generation of apprentices, graduates and engineers.

The Technology Strategy Board is a business-led government body which works to create economic growth by ensuring that the UK is a global leader in innovation. Sponsored by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), the Technology Strategy Board brings together business, research and the public sector, supporting and accelerating the development of innovative products and services to meet market needs, tackle major societal challenges and help build the future economy.

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