November 2013 Embargo: none Contact: Sandra Fearon, Mobile: +44 (0)7767 334804. Gkn aerospace leads steM project to produce novel winglet

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Date: 4th November 2013 Embargo: none

Contact: Sandra Fearon, Mobile: +44 (0)7767 334804.
GKN Aerospace leads STeM project to produce novel winglet

  • Development winglet lower skin exhibited at Advanced Engineering Show

GKN Aerospace will be exhibiting an advanced winglet lower skin, produced as part of an advanced winglet development project within the the STeM programme, at the Advanced Engineering Show, on the National Composites Centre stand D193, November 12th and 13th 2013.
The advanced winglet project is part of a £12m Structures Technology Maturity (STeM) programme focused on developing an innovative winglet using fully automated manufacturing processes. GKN Aerospace leads this project, with Bombardier, Spirit and GE partnering. GKN Aerospace is also providing £1.8m in funding which is matched by TSB (Technology Strategy Board) support.
Winglets have become an established feature of wing design because they provide valuable benefits in increased aircraft rate of climb, reduced fuel burn and a reduced noise footprint. The goal of this GKN Aerospace-led project has been to develop an innovative winglet design and simultaneously progress production processes that will decrease production times and improve end-product quality, consistency and repeatability.
The advanced winglet’s lower skin is a demonstrator component part with a complex geometry. It has been manufactured from carbon fibre at the UK’s National Composites Centre (NCC) using the latest automated fibre placement (AFP) technology. Its design has employed the latest software tools and the development process has been used to prove new modelling, manufacturing and testing methods and advance their readiness for use in future production programmes.
Rich Oldfield, Technical Director, GKN Aerospace commented: “We face twin challenges to improve airframe performance and to achieve far higher aircraft production rates than have been achievable until now. We believe the combined focus of the STeM programme will bring benefits on both fronts - and having access to the resources of the NCC is allowing us to work alongside our partners to progress the technologies and processes that are critical to achieving our goals.”
GKN Aerospace leadership of this STeM programme follows the completion of a ‘Grand Challenge’ in 2011. There, a consortium of 22 companies from across British industry and led by GKN Aerospace concluded a one year challenge set by the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) on behalf of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). This challenge required the companies to collaborate to progress innovations in vital composite manufacturing technologies. These would extend the UK’s ability to rapidly and sustainably manufacture affordable, high-performance composite products - identified as a key global growth market for the future.
Tom Hitchings Business Development Director at the NCC said, “Through the work being planned by GKN and other members of the NCC, we can help reduce full scale production costs, de-risk projects and accelerate components to market production. The NCC can aid any company wishing to scale up from prototype production to high volume manufacture by a number of ways from design simulation, innovative tooling and process optimisation.”

Notes to editors
For further information, on this release please contact:

Sandra Fearon, Public Relations Manager for Aerospace, GKN Aerospace

TEL: +44 (0)1983 283649 Mobile: +44 (0)7767 334804.


Photo caption: Manufacture of GKN Aerospace advanced winglet skins at the NCC twin AFP facility.
NCC Contact: Mary Page 07530366482

The aim of the STeM Project is to support new concepts in wing structure and manufacturing that enable expansion of the boundaries of aerodynamic performance and contribute to securing work in the UK for the next generation of aircraft. (

GKN plc is a global engineering group. It has four divisions; GKN Driveline, GKN Powder Metallurgy, GKN Aerospace and GKN Land Systems, which operate in the automotive, aerospace and land systems markets. Approximately 48,000 people work in GKN companies and joint ventures in more than 30 countries. GKN is listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE: GKN) and recorded sales of GBP6.9 billion in the year to 31 December 2012.
GKN Aerospace is a global first tier supplier of airframe structures, engine components, transparencies and fuel/flotation systems, with sales of GBP1.8bn in 2012 and a global workforce approaching 12,000. It has a significant participation on all major aircraft programmes today and a broad customer base spanning commercial, military, business aerospace and space markets. The company’s extensive engineering capability and clear focus on targeted innovation has created technological and manufacturing leads in each of its areas of expertise. 
For information about products and career opportunities go to: Press releases can also be found on the website.
About the NCC:
In November 2009 the Government launched the UK Composites Strategy. This highlighted the importance of composites to the future of UK manufacturing and the Government’s plans for ensuring that the UK has the means to succeed in intensely competitive global markets. The NCC opened in November 2011 to meet the needs of industry which is increasingly making use of composite materials which are light, strong and corrosion resistant. The Centre, which is owned by the University of Bristol, has world-class expertise and industrial-scale facilities that are being used to develop the technologies which will result in more fuel efficient land, sea and air vehicles as well as, for example, the next generation of wind and marine renewable energy devices.
The NCC is part of the first Technology and Innovation Centre, “Catapult centre”, – for High Value Manufacturing. The HVM Technology and Innovations Centre will provide an integrated capability and embrace all forms of manufacture using metals and composites, in addition to process manufacturing technologies and bio-processing. It will draw on excellent university research to accelerate the commercialisation of new and emerging manufacturing technologies. This was the first of an elite network of Centres that are being established by the Technology Strategy Board with over £200m of Government investment overall.
The NCC is a £25m investment supported by: the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (£12m); the South West RDA (Regional Development Agency) (£4m); and £9m from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). It is owned and hosted by the University of Bristol. The Government announced a further £28m in the 2012 Autumn Statement for the expansion of the NCC.
About ERDF
ERDF Competitiveness in the South West has one objective - to increase the prosperity of the region through supporting enterprises and individuals to develop ideas and plans which contribute to increased productivity and competitiveness. This objective is supported by four operational objectives:

  • Increasing the productivity of the region’s business base, through the promotion and support of innovation, research and development and the application of knowledge;

  • Reduce intra-regional disparities through stimulating enterprise and accelerating business growth in those parts of the region lagging behind;

  • To increase employment and enterprise in the region's most disadvantaged communities; and

  • Protect and enhance the region's environmental assets and work towards developing a low carbon economy.

About BIS:
The Department of Business, Innovation and Skills provided £12m towards the project from its Strategic Investment Fund which supported a small number of high-impact manufacturing related projects across the UK.
About TSB:
About the Bristol & Bath Science Park:
The Bristol & Bath Science Park is a 59 acre (24 hectare) site in Emerson's Green, north Bristol, which will become home to up to 6,000 jobs. The Science Park will be the hub for the region's many science and technology businesses, connecting entrepreneurs, fledgling businesses and established brands with vital investors, academia and design. The Universities of Bath, Bristol and West of England are key stakeholders in the science park.

NCC, Feynman Way Central, Bristol & Bath Science Park, Emersons Green, Bristol, BS16 7FS |+44 (0)117 3707 600 |

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