Nottingham wins £1.2m research contract

The University of Nottingham is working on a big project to bring new wing design, manufacturing and assembly technologies

The University is partnering with GE Aviation in order to undertake research across a range of areas. This is a two-year project which will research the assembly of ribs and fastening of composite panels leading to new technologies in sealants and other technologies. The project, which is worth £1.2m to The University of Nottingham, has been awarded funding by the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK.

The University of Nottingham project with GE is part of a larger research programme being led by GKN Aerospace. In total, 13 partners from across the UK will be working on the wing manufacturing research programme, backed by the UK’s Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI).

Known as VIEWS, (Validation and Integration of Manufacturing Enablers for Future Wing Structures), the programme will span manufacturing processes including wing design, manufacture and assembly, whilst also selecting some novel technologies for further development.

Four researchers at The University of Nottingham will be employed full-time in order to develop two demonstrator assembly cells, one on the development of ribs and the other on panel technology.

Speaking about the programme, Professor Svetan Ratchev, Professor of Production Engineering in the Faculty of Engineering, who is leading The University of Nottingham project, said: “This programme is very important in terms of further enhancing our links with internationally leading aerospace manufacturers by building on our expertise in advanced manufacturing technologies. The results of the project will contribute to maintaining the competiveness of the UK aerospace sector and its future growth.

“Here at Nottingham we have one of the largest academic teams for aerospace research in Europe, with over 250 academics delivering multi-disciplinary research and driving the development of cutting edge technologies which will radically improve all aspects of future air transport.”

VIEWS will progress technologies that have emerged from the recently completed STeM (Structures Technology Maturity) research programme. Also led by GKN Aerospace, STeM has identified processes that could reduce by 20 per cent the cost of manufacture and assembly of a typical composite box structure.

Russ Dunn, Senior Vice President, Engineering and Technology, GKN Aerospace, explains: “Through the Aerospace Technology Institute, the UK aerospace sector is able to work together effectively to develop promising technologies and processes that will help us maintain our position as the strongest national aerospace industry outside the USA.

“STeM saw us make valuable progress and VIEWS will work from that base, taking us nearer to market readiness with a new generation of automated processes and technologies that will extend what we in the UK are able to manufacture, at the same time as increasing the quality, consistency and speed of production.”

For more information about aerospace research at The University of Nottingham, visit



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