Aero projects bear fruit

Posted on 9 Jun 2010 by The Manufacturer

Five projects involving 14 companies to develop new aircraft component technology are currently underway in phase one of the Midlands Aerospace Alliance’s (MAA) Aerospace Technology Exploitation Programme (ATEP).

ATEP was originally launched in 2006 with funding from Advantage West Midlands (AWM). Last year it secured a further £1.5 million from Advantage West Midlands and the European Regional Development Fund to deliver seven new projects in a second phase of the programme.

The MAA has released details of the individual ATEP programmes. They are:

• A housing for an aircraft actuator gearbox, developed by Goodrich Actuation Systems Limited, which is fitted onto wings, made from composite materials and delivers a 25% reduction in the overall weight of the gearbox. The company says the new part will also last longer than traditional aluminium pieces.

• A partnership between HS Marston Aerospace and midlands SME Advanced Chemical Etchings, to produce a new alloy high temperature heat exchanger which enables engines to operate at higher temperatures and thereby reduce CO2 emissions by 10%.

• Meggitt Control Systems partnering with the University of Birmingham to perfect a new heat transfer system (pictured below) that improves efficiency by providing a secondary surface to the tubes of a conventional heat exchanger. This enhanced heat transfer process could be utilised within a variety of industries including aerospace, marine and automotive.

• Teer Coatings and Anopol Coatings are working together to improve the life of industrial moulding tools for forging with the use of nano-coatings technology.

• University of Wolverhampton, Ajax Tocco and Unipart are partnering on a project to lower capital equipment cost process which has wide applications for aerospace and possibly other manufacturers.

Andrew Mair, chief executive of the MAA, said: “The West Midlands is renowned for its advanced engineering and manufacturing capabilities. We launched ATEP to match the skills of our larger manufacturers within the region with niche SMEs and academics to meet emerging aerospace market requirements.”

“Development of components that reduce weight and enhance fuel efficiency is a significant achievement for ATEP companies and the West Midlands. Greener technologies are at the forefront of all leading aircraft manufacturers’ plans and we anticipate seeing the innovative parts flying on next generation civil and defence aircraft – so providing high-skill jobs in the West Midlands for decades to come.”

Headline projects expected to conclude in 2011 and 2012 include novel material springs for mechanical systems, innovative aircraft tyre designs and longer life aircraft brakes.