The aerospace revolution being led from the heart of Cornwall

Posted on 1 Sep 2022 by The Manufacturer

From production of PHASA-35’s aerostructure to highly innovative future technology, Piran Composites is revolutionising the Aerospace & Space industry, one pseudo-satellite at a time.

Piran Composites is a Cornwall-based design engineer and manufacturing company, focused on producing high-quality and innovative advanced composite materials for the Aerospace and Defence industry. Established in 1997, Piran first made a splash in the Marine industry: supplying products, composite repairs, expert skills and labour to the RNLI and private yachts alike.

Piran’s advanced composites are formulated from different materials which, when combined, form a greater sum than their individual parts. This innovation is evident in their work with BAE Systems on the PHASA-35 unmanned, solar powered pseudo-satellite: an aircraft which took its first maiden flight just two years after its initial conception. They are now involved in the next stages of development – undertaking the production of the complete carbon fibre aerostructure.

With this innovative future tech enabling HAPs to fly at stratospheric heights around 60,000 feet, Piran Composites have quickly become front-runners in this exciting new innovative technology. Their rapid expansion has seen them take on a second premises at the Aerohub site (Cornwall’s Enterprise Zone) at Cornwall Airport Newquay, and also secure a contract with space communications gateway, Goonhilly Earth Station Ltd, to build antennas. Piran is taking advantage of the county’s strong manufacturing scene and highly progressive Space Cluster. 

Cornwall business, Piran Advanced Composites is a concept engineering company working in marine and repairs. They have now moved into Aerospace and now make high tech parts for drones. 15 June 2022 photograph by Janna Dixon

Cornwall-based Piran Advanced Composites has now moved into Aerospace and now make high tech parts for drones. Image credit: Janna Dixon

The benefits of Piran’s move are two-fold: it enables them to increase their aerospace operations and encourages a huge investment into Cornwall’s infrastructure. They’ve already created 30 new jobs in the last 12 months and won’t stop there. Since much of the future tech available is not yet manufacturable in high volumes, Piran Composites intends to capitalise on the huge market potential, continuing to recruit further to build a highly skilled team.  

To accelerate their output, Piran have acquired precision machinery, a five axis CNC machine and an autoclave, which will enable them to reach new levels of manufacturing. These specialist machines mean they are also able to give unique and skilled training to their staff in areas otherwise unavailable in Cornwall. 

With the UK government aspiring to make the industry more accessible, sustainable and lower in cost, what’s next for Piran Composites?

Alongside their engineering and manufacturing innovations, they are working to increase their research and development output from the very heart of Cornwall, giving the UK a firm footing on the Aerospace map. And with the UK government’s intentions clear, Piran Composites recognises the real need to localise supply chains and build infrastructure in order to advance future tech. More companies are joining this movement, determined to revolutionise the way the Aerospace and Space industry operates.

Mawgan Searle, Director, Piran Advanced Composites: “To be a part of this hugely growing sector in Cornwall & the UK is fantastic. When industries like the Aerospace & Space industry start to grow so rapidly, and you can be at the forefront, it’s truly something to behold. We are very fortunate to have been able to attain such specialist equipment like our 5 axis CNC machine & autoclave, as this has enabled us to increase our production output tenfold. Along with our purpose-built clean rooms & incredibly hard working team, we’re excited to see what’s next as we continue to expand.”

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