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13 December 2006
13. December 2006 Commercial Aircraft

U.K. research programme to investigate wing designs for future civil aircraft


Airbus will lead a public/private-funded wing technology validation programme that forms a core element of the U.K. National Aerospace Technology Strategy. This programme brings together 17 leading British organisations to work on such "sustainable aviation" challenges as reduced fuel burn and environmental impact; lower acquisition, operating and maintenance costs; and faster time to market.

Airbus has welcomed a Department of Trade Industry announcement to support a £34 million public/private funded Integrated Wing Aerospace Technology Validation Programme (ATVP), led by Airbus. The programme forms a core element of the U.K. National Aerospace Technology Strategy and could ultimately lead to a step change in civil aircraft wing design from 2020 and beyond.

Over decades, Britain has established itself as the centre of excellence for wing design and manufacture for the hugely successful Airbus family of aircraft. It has created the most innovative and highly optimised wings of any commercial aircraft, substantially contributing to their efficiency and high performance, which have been key factors in the global success of Airbus. This new Integrated Wing ATVP brings together leading British organisations - 17 in total - from industry, research bodies and academia to work on Phase One of a long-term programme aimed at addressing 21st century "sustainable aviation" challenges such as reduced fuel burn and environmental impact; lower acquisition, operating and maintenance costs; and faster time to market.

Integrated Wing ATVP will "pull through" basic and applied research carried out in recent years and ongoing today under national, European Union and privately-funded programmes. It will integrate these technologies into new architectural concepts and validate the most promising applications for new products. Its work will enhance the key U.K. strengths in engineering of wings, wing systems, landing gear and fuel systems, areas which all make a significant contribution to meeting the environmental challenges for aviation - and bring together advanced technology applications including:

Aerodynamic flow control and aero-elastic tailoring
Advanced materials, structural design and manufacturing for low cost
Fuel and electro-thermal ice protection systems
Advanced landing gear design, installation and noise reduction
Power plant integration

Technologies with potentially the greatest benefits, which also often carry the highest development risks, will be down-selected and brought together for systems level validation and technology investment optimisation leading, at the end of three years, to a Virtual Integrated Wing Systems Demonstrator.

Louis Gallois, President and Chief Executive Officer of Airbus said: "I am delighted that both the government and the other funding bodies are supporting this important aspect of research and technology in the U.K. This is in line with our common objective to establish a sustainable wing leadership position in Britain."

Gordon McConnell, Head of Engineering at Airbus U.K., said: "A validation programme of this magnitude demonstrates Britain's commitment to playing a key role in meeting the challenges of sustainable aviation. This is a very exciting project, which will provide a platform for future innovative aircraft designs and will help to ensure that Airbus and our partners in this programme will retain our competitive position. After completing Phase One, our intention is to go forward to develop a large-scale physical demonstrator in a second phase. Ultimately the fully optimised solutions will be incorporated in new Airbus aircraft designs in the 2020 timeframe."

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