Airbus reports that Kwasi Kwarteng, UK Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, has officially opened Airbus’ Aerospace Integrated Research and Test Centre (AIRTeC) located in Filton, Bristol. The new centre features an Additive Manufacturing suite and digital manufacturing laboratory.
AIRTeC is a £40 million, state-of-the-art research and testing facility jointly funded by the UK government’s Aerospace Technology Insitute (ATI) programme and Airbus. The facility is designed to undertake structural testing of large-scale aircraft assemblies, from full-size wings down to the individual components and materials used in aircraft design. It is said to provide the most advanced working environment and tools for Airbus alongside external suppliers, partners, and academia, to deliver the next generation of aircraft wing, landing-gear systems and fuel system designs.
The facility is also said to be a key asset in helping industry accelerate the design, manufacture, testing, certification, infrastructure, and commercial operation of zero-emission aircraft through sustained investment in R&T and R&D and fostering greater collaboration across sectors.
Companies in other sectors, such as maritime and nuclear, along with universities, will be able to utilise AIRTeC’s innovative and adaptable environment, which includes a state-of-the-art specialist test space, a 40 m-long strong floor, and a 14 x 10 m strong wall capable of testing full-size wings – with a force equivalent to the weight of 240 cars – using a 25 MN high-capacity loading test machine.
AIRTeC also includes labs, collaborative office space, and reconfigurable testing areas and will enable Airbus and its partners to develop cutting-edge designs and is said to be central to Airbus’ Wing of Tomorrow programme, which is exploring the best materials, manufacturing, and assembly techniques to help deliver more fuel-efficient, cleaner aircraft. In addition to the AM suite and digital manufacturing laboratory, the new facility also features the Airbus low-speed wind tunnel.
“The launch of this fantastic new centre comes as Airbus prepares to ramp up production of its most popular aircraft towards the end of the year – a clear vote of confidence in Britain as we build back better from the pandemic,” stated Kwarteng. “These top-class research and testing facilities will be used to continue the spirit of innovation for which we are world renowned and will produce the cleaner, more efficient flights of tomorrow.”
He added, “This is great news, not just for Filton but for the rest of the UK which will benefit from jobs in the supply chain. I am proud of the government’s support for the centre’s construction, showing we are leaving no stone unturned in our drive to make the aviation industry cleaner in the fight against climate change.”
John Harrison, General Counsel and UK Chairman of Airbus commented, “Airbus makes a significant contribution to the UK aerospace industry and we are delighted to welcome the Secretary of State to help us showcase our fantastic facility. AIRTeC will take our research and testing capabilities at Filton to the next level and will make us even more competitive for the future.”