19 July 2010
EADS’ presence at the 2010 Farnborough International Airshow is showcasing the company’s innovation focus within the UK, which covers areas ranging from manufacturing and materials processes to aerodynamics, alternative power sources and advanced communications.
Chief Technical Officer Jean Botti said the UK represents the company’s third largest concentration of innovation-related activities, just after those in France and Germany.
EADS Innovation Works – the company’s research and technology arm – expanded into the UK in 2008, building on the expertise and competence developed by EADS and its predecessor companies during the past decades.
The roll hoop around the air inlet on this ForceIndia Formula One race car was manufactured by EADS Innovation Works in the UK using Additive Layer Manufacturing.
“We’ve grown extremely rapidly since the establishment of our UK Innovation Works in 2008, which is the result of a strong technology network and the high quality of people in the country,” Botti explained.
The innovation activity is supported by EADS’ significant research and development spending – more than ₤550 million annually – which is the largest amongst UK aerospace companies, and the sixth overall within the country’s industrial sector. In addition, EADS also has established strong links with academia, and is the only UK company to have created strategic framework agreements with four separate government departments.
One of the many promising areas of EADS’ UK research is the more environmentally-conscious procedure of producing metallic parts using the additive layer manufacturing (ALM) process, in which material is deposited in incremental stages. ALM uses significantly less material and reduces waste compared to traditional machining processes, and also is expected to reduce weight – an important factor for the thousands of brackets and small metallic components used on aircraft.
In other activity, EADS Innovation Works teams in the UK city of Newport are working with the company’s Defence and Security business unit to investigate the potential use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) as surrogate satellites. Such platforms could provide ad-hoc broadband communications networks to forward military operating bases, as well as in areas suffering from natural disasters where traditional communications networks have collapsed.
EADS Innovation Works sites at Newport and Filton are involved in integrating a small-scale solid oxide-based fuel cell developed by Birmingham University into a flying UAV concept developed by Defence and Security.
Another focus of EADS Innovation Works in the UK is cooperation with Formula 1 racing. “Many Formula 1 racing teams are based in the UK, so the country is a hub to support our advanced technology work with this sector,” Botti said. “This collaboration helps us implement certain new technologies much earlier than possible in the aeronautics sector. As a result, we are able to gain experience in certain fields for potential application later in aeronautics.”