Airbus Helicopters will partner with a UK firm, NetComposites under the Dual Use Technology Exploitation (DUTE) cluster, to help develop and produce lower weight, lower cost helicopter armour at an increased rate and enable more flexibility in military helicopter design.
NetComposites is the lead for the project and will collaborate with Airbus Helicopters under which funding worth 1.2 million pounds is earmarked and supported by the UK Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative.
This project will help bring maturity to existing technologies, shortening the time to market from up to 15 years down to three. The technology will also have the potential to be used more widely in areas such as personal protection and body armour, a global market estimated to be worth $2.4 billion in 2013, an Airbus release said today.
Airbus will also partner with Cranfield University, BHR Group and SME Helitune Ltd for developing technologies to measure blade deformations in flight.
Airbus Helicopters has received funding from the Department for Business Innovations and Skills (BIS) for a project worth 2 million pounds.
The project, part-funded by government through the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), will also create a tool for future research into rotorcraft blade dynamics and will allow engineers to actively monitor rotor blade performance during flight tests.
This will have a major impact on flight safety, operations and maintenance, and will contribute towards reductions in point-to-point travel time (one of ACARE’s Vision 2020 goals). It will also support the UK’s skills and capability in the field of advanced aerodynamics, an area where the UK is a global leader.
Colin James, Managing Director for Airbus Helicopters in the UK said, “Unlike the rest of Airbus Group which has a balance of core business activities spanning France, Germany, Spain and the UK, Airbus Helicopters still has, by comparison, an underdeveloped industrial presence in Britain and we mean to change this.”
Gary Elliott, Chief Executive Officer of the ATI, said, “The UK blade research programme with Airbus Helicopters is a good example of how a major global prime can be attracted to locate its R&D in the UK because of the strength of our research centres, supply chain and the Government’s support for innovation”.