Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has announced a £45m joint government and industry project focused on developing new technologies for low-carbon aircraft engines at the unveiling of Rolls-Royce’s £100m factory.
Mr Clegg made the announcement with business secretary Vince Cable at the unveiling of Rolls-Royce’s new facility in Washington, Tyne and Wear, which is set to make more than 2,500 fan and turbine discs a year.
The North East factory, which will supply the components to power aircraft made by industry giants Boeing and Bombardier, will also manufacture discs for the Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engine, used for Airbus’ A350 XWB.
Rolls-Royce say the move will safeguard hundreds of highly-skilled manufacturing jobs in the region, providing economic security for the future and ensuring this highly advanced work does not go to overseas competitors.
The announcement of £45m of joint government and industry funding will extend across three projects led by Rolls-Royce through the Aerospace Technology Institute to develop new technology for low-carbon aircraft engines.
The project funding will be used for research and development to reduce carbon emissions by using lightweight composite materials to make Rolls-Royce engines.
Research will also focus on changing parts of the engine design to make engines more efficient and reducing the time it takes to manufacture them.
The Deputy Prime Minister said both the government project and opening of the new facility will strengthen the UK as a world leader in an aerospace sector generating £24bn annually.
“We should be really proud that the UK is the number one aerospace industry in Europe and a world leader in innovation,” he said.
“The highly skilled workers at the new Rolls-Royce factory are leading the charge for innovative technologies that are made in Britain.
“And the Government’s investment of £45 million alongside industry will help to ensure the UK continues to build and design the planes of the future.”
Mr Cable, who has overseen £2bn of funding through the government’s Aerospace Growth Partnership, added: “The UK is at the forefront of the global aerospace industry, and investments such as this new factory from Rolls-Royce will help to keep us there.
“The projects that we are funding through our aerospace industrial strategy will ensure that Britain develops the efficient and environmentally friendly aircraft of the future, while keeping highly-skilled manufacturing jobs here in Britain.”
The research will be carried out by a number of partners from across the UK, including the universities of Birmingham, Nottingham, Oxford and Sheffield, the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre in Sheffield and the new Manufacturing Technology Centre in Coventry.