Birmingham-based Dunlop Aircraft Tyres has secured a £1.5 million government grant to develop and test next-generation aircraft tyres aimed at being lighter and more robust.
The three-year project, which is being run in collaboration with Airbus, will see the world’s only specialist aircraft tyre manufacturer and retreader focus on developing main-wheel radial tyres designed for current and future versions of the A320 family of aircraft.
With fuel costs and environmental pressures increasing, airframers are keen to find new ways to reduce the weight of their aircraft while making them even more robust and they expect component manufacturers, including those producing tyres, to support them in this drive
“We are following a phased process which will allow us to innovate with new materials and modelling techniques before designing a new product,” said Dunlop Aircraft Tyres’ chief designer, Steve Barlow, who is overseeing the £3m project.
He added: “We will be investing in new manufacturing and testing equipment and plan to have the first prototype tyres ready by 2014.”
Dunlop Aircraft Tyres’ chairman, Ian Edmondson said the fact its revenues had doubled in five years and 80 per cent of the products it makes in Birmingham are exported is an indicator of this.
“This grant signals the UK government’s commitment to helping small and medium-sized businesses to prosper in the global aerospace industry,” he said.
“We have a history spanning more than 100 years, but it is only through research that Dunlop Aircraft Tyres aims not just to keep pace with but to leapfrog its competitors.”
The £1.5 million grant was awarded to Dunlop Aircraft Tyres by the Government’s Technology Strategy Board, as part of its drive to accelerate economic growth by stimulating and supporting business-led innovation.