Interview with Simon Young, new CEO at West of England Aerospace Forum

January 15, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
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Simon Young came back to the region this month to head up the West of England Aerospace Forum (WEAF)- ‘Future’s fantastic for our aerospace industry,’ he says

via Big interview: Simon Young, West of England Aerospace Forum – ‘Future’s fantastic for our aerospace industry’ | Blog.

GKN Opens Engineering Centre In Filton

July 11, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
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GKN Aerospace has opened a new engineering and technology center at its site at Filton near Bristol. The centre is GKN’s fourth and will focus on future wing structure design and manufacture. The company expect to increase the engineers on the site from 5 to over 100.

via GKN Opens Engineering Center In Filton, UK | Aviation International News.

Bristol wins £2m centre for 3D printing

April 12, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
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R&D collaboration for aircraft and cars


Aircraft maker EADS and GKN Aerospace are launching a £2m research centre to examine industrialising the next generation of manufacturing process known as Additive Layer Manufacturing (ALM), which is essentially ‘printing’ objects in 3D.

The collaboration will be supported by a £1.96m investment provided through a Government Regional Growth Fund grant for the use of ALM in aerospace but also for making parts and accessories for cars.

The project will be based in a new shared facility at Filton in Bristol and is expected to create up to 30 new sustainable engineering jobs and develop a new supply chain of companies in the region.

“Promoting innovation is vital if we are to drive growth in our local communities,” said Business and Enterprise Minister Mark Prisk. “We have received a large number of ambitious and highly competitive bids to the first round of the Regional Growth Fund, which will help a number of businesses across the country, and I am delighted to announce funding for this collaboration between EADS and GKN Aerospace. Aerospace is one of Britain’s international successes and one that we should be proud of. We are number one in Europe and number two in the world with a 17 per cent global market share. I look forward to seeing the collaboration build further on this success, creating more jobs here in Bristol and providing an invaluable boost to the local economy.”

The ALM process grows solid 3D shapes from powdered raw material. The shape is created as a digital model which is split into horizontal slices. A laser or electron beam then traces the shape slice by slice onto a bed of powdered material, heating the material, melting it and bonding it to the layer below.  It then quickly cools to form a solid. The process is repeated slice by slice by sweeping a fresh layer of powder over the top each time.

This technology has the potential to advance the design and manufacture of parts in ways that cannot be achieved today, delivering lighter, purpose made parts which use less material, generate less waste and produce lower emissions.  Early results indicate that manufacturing waste could be reduced by up to 90% – particularly significant in industries where high-cost materials are used, such as the aerospace sector.

“This collaboration takes a significant step towards bringing this unique technology into industrial reality. As a more efficient, sustainable process, ALM has the potential to revolutionise industrial manufacturing and secure the UK’s position at the forefront of high tech innovation,” said Ian Risk, Head of EADS Innovation Works UK.

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Report highlights aerospace issues for SouthWest

March 30, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
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Over the next 10 years, the large emerging markets of China and India will drive global civil aerospace growth says a new report from UK Trade and Investment (report here). This is increasingly important for the SouthWest with many of the key players – Airbus, Rolls Royce, GKN and AgustaWestland – on the Science Park and Airbus building  £70m Technology Park in Filton in North Bristol.

The opportunities in these markets for UK aerospace companies will principally focus around the formation of partnerships and technology collaboration and it is key that the UK positions itself as a long-term strategy partner with these markets, asys teh report.  The principal opportunities in the next 10-year period are likely to be on new Boeing, Airbus, Bombardier, COMAC and Embraer programmes due to their sheer volume and the fact that there will be options for new supplier entries.

There are also significant opportunities for UK suppliers to win international business on new rotorcraft,business aircraft and Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) programmes, which will also drive the need for innovation in microelectronics and electronic system integration

The globalisation of the supply chain and current market conditions require that UK aerospace companies and UK Government co-operate even more closely than before to maintain and expand their share of this important part of the advanced engineering sector.

Successive UK Governments have recognised the importance of aerospace as a strategic sector and have been supportive in helping it to develop and grow its international civil and defence aerospace business. Advanced manufacturing sectors such as aerospace and defence also continue to be seen as important to maintaining a balanced economy in the UK.

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Bristol to be part of high-value manufacturing Technology and Innovation Centre (TIC)

March 18, 2011 by · 1 Comment
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The National Composites Centre (NCC) at the University of Bristol has been named as a partner in the first of a UK-wide network of elite technology and innovation centres

Bristol’s NCC is one of seven highly capable and internationally recognised research centres around the country which will make up the new Technology and Innovation Centre (TIC) for high-value manufacturing which is distributed right across the UK.

The centre will be one of a network of about six in which the Government will invest a total of more than £200 million over the next four years with the aim of enabling British businesses to commercialise the results of world-class research in the UK and access major new high-tech markets.

“I am delighted for the NCC to be working with the five other centres – the Centre for Process Innovation in Wilton & Sedgefield, the Advanced Forming Research Centre at the University of Strathclyde, the Manufacturing Technology Centre in Coventry, the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre in Rotherham and the Warwick Manufacturing Group at the University of Warwick – in the formation of the high-value manufacturing TIC,” said Peter Chiver, Executive Director of the National Composites Centre (NCC),

“This is fantastic news for Bristol. Today’s announcement recognises the world-class expertise in advanced manufacturing in the South West and the fantastic potential of this industry to secure jobs and prosperity for decades to come.  On a more practical level, it will enable Bristol to solidify its position at the forefront of composites, an industry that is growing at eight per cent per year. This is a huge opportunity for the National Composites Centre.”

Guy Orpen, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise at the University of Bristol, said: “There is no doubt that composites will form a vital part of the UK’s manufacturing renaissance. This key part of the UK economy will be driven by closer collaboration between industry and the very best of academia and we are proud that the University of Bristol and the NCC’s initiating partners are playing such a significant role in this important part of the UK’s economy going forward. This is very good news for Bristol, the region and the UK.”

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Focus on aerospace sensors technologies -10th March 2011

March 8, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
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Aerospace Sensor Technologies: Ensuring Nanoscale Manufacturing Integrity, BAWA, Bristol

The UK has the largest aerospace industry outside of the USA, with an annual turnover of £22bn and a supply chain supporting over 276,000 jobs. It can genuinely be called a UK manufacturing success story, and Bristol has been a key centre for the technology from the earliest days of flight.

Related articles

SW Microelectronics iNet

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Bristol engineering students receive prestigious awards from Boeing

February 15, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
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Six students from the University of Bristol’s Faculty of Engineering have been awarded prizes from global aerospace giant Boeing for their innovation in integrated aerospace systems.

Bridget White and Joshua Shimmin both received scholarships for their final year of study whilst James Wilcox, Samantha Huntley, Sky Sartorius and Ben Buxton all received awards for their final projects which ranged from intelligent vehicles to fluid mechanics, helicopter design and ultrasound radio echoes.

“These students have excelled and are worthy winners of these awards.  They have demonstrated the significant prerequisites for becoming the engineering leaders of the future,” said Shane Bennison, Director of Engineering for Boeing Defence UK and the company link for the University of Bristol.

One of the winners, James Wilcox, was awarded the best MEng project in Electrical and Electronic Engineering for his project entitled ‘Fully autonomous Scalextric vehicle using MEMS inertial sensors’.

Dr Mike Barton, project supervisor and Senior Lecturer in Microelectronics in the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, said: “James designed and built instrumentation to be mounted inside a Scalextric car to allow it autonomously to negotiate a track at optimum speed while transmitting telemetry data via Bluetooth – and he achieved a working demonstration on time.”

Professor Nick Lieven, Dean of Engineering, added: “Once again our students have shown that they are highly capable individuals who have demonstrated a talent for engineering.  They are without doubt amongst the best engineering graduates in the world and it is to their credit that they have been recognised for their achievements during their studies.”

The awards were funded by Boeing along with a contribution to support the student robot test arena and the University of Bristol Aeolus wind powered car project.   The support to these students, facilities and projects are hugely important to help inspire the interest of future students and ensure that the UK remains at the forefront of advanced engineering.

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Spacecraft that think for themselves

February 14, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
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The world’s first control system that will allow engineers to programme autonomous satellites and spacecraft to think for themselves has been developed by scientists from the University of Southampton.
Professor Sandor Veres and his team of engineers have developed a cognitive software agent control system called ‘sysbrain’ that uses natural language programming (NLP) to ‘read’ special English language technical documents on control methods. This gives the vehicles advanced guidance, navigation and feedback capabilities to stop them crashing into other objects, as well as agent-based control with mission execution capabilities and the ability to recognise and reconfigure faults. This approach can be applied to other automated systems.
“This is the world’s first publishing system of technical knowledge for machines and opens the way for engineers to publish control instructions to machines directly,” said Professor Veres, who is leading the EPSRC-funded project. “As well as spacecrafts and satellites, this innovative technology is transferable to other types of autonomous vehicles, such as autonomous underwater, ground and aerial vehicles.”
To test the control systems that could be applied in a space environment, Professor Veres and his team constructed a unique test facility and a fleet of satellite models, which are controlled by the sysbrain cognitive agent control system.  The ‘Autonomous Systems Testbed’ consists of a glass covered precision level table, surrounded by a metal framework, which is used to mount overhead visual markers, observation cameras and isolation curtains to prevent any external light sources interfering with experimentation. Visual navigation is performed using onboard cameras to observe the overhead marker system located above the test area. This replicates how spacecraft would use points in the solar system to determine their orientation.
“We have invented sysbrain to control intelligent machines. Sysbrain is a special breed of software agents with unique features such as natural language programming to create them, human-like reasoning, and most importantly they can read special English language documents in ‘system English’ or ‘sEnglish’,” said Professor Veres. “Human authors of sEnglish documents can put them on the web as publications and sysbrain can read them to enhance their physical and problem solving skills. This allows engineers to write technical papers directly for sysbrain that control the machines.”

NLP programming of spacecraft

SW Microelectronics iNet

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Working with Chinese avionics firms

February 7, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
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The presentations from last month’s visit to the region by Chinese avionics companies are up at the West of England Aerospace Forum.

Chinese Aerospace Supply Chain and Partnering Mission – Event Slides

China Missions – Paul Calver

Working With Chinese Partners – Vince Cunningham

Briefing on AVIC & COMAC – Douglas Barnes

Chinese Aerospace Market – Paul Calver