The first phase of a scheme to help aerospace firms to develop new technology has been deemed a success.
A total of 14 of the region’s businesses have collaborated with academics on five projects to develop new component technologies for aircraft of the future through the Aerospace Technology Exploitation Programme (ATEP).
The £1.5 million scheme, which has received funding from Advantage West Midlands, seeks to benefit from the region’s strength in the aerospace sector.
Andrew Mair, chief executive of the Midlands Aerospace Alliance, said: “The West Midlands is renowned for its advanced engineering and manufacturing capabilities. We launched ATEP to match the skills of our larger manufacturers within the region with niche SMEs and academics to meet emerging aerospace market requirements.”
As part of the scheme, Wolverhampton-based Goodrich Actuation Systems has developed a housing for an aircraft actuator gearbox, fitted onto the wings, from composite materials.
The company said this delivers a 25 per reduction in the overall weight of the gearbox.
Carl Maxwell, technology manager at Goodrich, said: “The actuator gearbox housing is traditionally made from aluminium die-casting but our rigorous tests on the composite part have highlighted that the new materials are not only lighter, but could last for longer without the need to replace.
“The new part is based on Airbus requirements, and we’re hoping that it could be certified for use in the near future through our role in the Airbus-led Next Generation Composite Wing programme.”
Also based in Wolverhampton, HS Marston Aerospace has partnered with Advanced Chemical Etchings to produce a new alloy high temperature heat exchanger technology, which the companies anticipate will be fitted onto forthcoming aircraft engines.
Birmingham’s Meggitt Control Systems has partnered with the University of Birmingham to perfect a new heat transfer system that improves efficiency.
Paul Guggiari, a director of thermal management engineering at Meggitt, said: “The technology includes Meggitt’s unique nickel-based foam, Retimet. This improves heat transfer by providing a secondary surface to the tubes of a conventional heat exchanger.
“This enhanced heat transfer process could be utilised within a variety of industries including aerospace, marine and automotive.”