UK to gain world-leading digital aviation tech centre

Cranfield University has announced the construction of a new £65m Digital Aviation Research and Technology Centre with the goal of developing innovative solutions for the 21st century aviation sector.

Once constructed, the Digital Aviation Research and Technology Centre (DARTeC) will reportedly provide research facilities “unprecedented” in Europe.

The research conducted at the centre aims to develop solutions for the 21st century aviation sector through collaboration between universities, business, government and regulatory authorities.

DARTeC will address such research challenges facing the aviation industry as:

  • the integration of drones into civilian airspace
  • increasing the efficiency of airports through technological advances
  • creating safe, secure shared airspace through secure data communication infrastructures
  • increasing the reliability and availability of aircraft through self-sensing, self-aware technologies

Game-changing technologies such as a virtual air traffic control tower and next-generation radar technologies on the university’s licensed airport will also provide a Civil Aviation Authority-approval route that promises increased efficiency, flexibility and capacity.

The work conducted at the Digital Aviation Research and Technology Centre (DARTeC) will shape the future of airports, aircraft, airspace and airlines – image courtesy of Cranfield.
The work conducted at the Digital Aviation Research and Technology Centre (DARTeC) will shape the future of airports, aircraft, airspace and airlines – image courtesy of Cranfield.

Principal investigator for DARTeC and director of transport systems, Professor Graham Braithwaite explained: “The Digital Aviation and Research Technology Centre will greatly advance the application of new innovative technology within the air transport sector.

“Here at Cranfield, we are shaping the future of airports, aircraft, airspace and airlines, through the power of our research capabilities. The implementation of new novel technologies has the capacity to transform the way air transport operates, bringing greater efficiency and heightened safety.”

Funding for DARTeC will be provided from a consortium of leading aerospace and aviation companies including: Thales; Raytheon; SAAB; Monarch Aircraft Engineering Limited; Boeing UK, and Aveillant – as well as Cranfield University.

The Centre is also benefiting from £15.5m of funding from the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund (UKRPIF), a scheme led by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE). DARTeC is one of nine projects announced as part of the current round of UKRPIF funding.