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6 October, 2021 - 20:39 By Tony Quested

Cranfield University joins Spirit Europe’s Aerospace Innovation Centre as academic partner

Cranfield University has joined Spirit Europe’s Aerospace Innovation Centre (AIC) as an academic partner at Spirit’s  R & D facility in Prestwick, Scotland – officially opened recently by Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon.

The AIC was established as a centre of excellence in advanced materials, digital technologies and processes where Spirit will collaborate with industry and academic partners.

The state-of-the-art £30 million centre will explore innovative design techniques for products such as aircraft wings, using lightweight composite material technology to reduce flight emissions and lower costs, and is already facilitating more than 20 industry and academic collaborations.

The 90,000 square foot innovation centre on the Spirit Europe campus in Prestwick is capable of manufacturing components of up to 20 metres in length. It features 55,000 square feet of manufacturing space, a materials lab, and office and conference space to accommodate over 200 people.

Professor Iain Gray, Director of Aerospace at Cranfield University, said: “Congratulations to Spirit AeroSystems on the opening of this very impressive facility which will help to advance technologies and capabilities to develop next-generation aerospace components and assembly processes. 

“Cranfield is honoured to be a partner with Spirit and we look forward to working together in the AIC to innovate, train and develop skills for the design and digital manufacturing of current and future aircraft.”

Nicola Sturgeon said: “As well as improving the efficiency of aircraft parts, and the way they are manufactured, this facility has the potential to enable growth for industry-leading aerospace innovations and create more high-value manufacturing jobs over the next decade.”

Scott McLarty, Senior Vice-President and General Manager - Airbus Programs and Business Jets, Spirit AeroSystems, and alumnus of Cranfield University, said: “For true innovation to occur, we need a diverse range of ideas and collaboration from a number of areas across the spectrum of research and development. 

“As one of the UK’s leading Aerospace companies, Spirit Europe is proud to establish a collaborative space where we, with our partners in industry and education, will work together to develop new technologies that are competitive and sustainable for aerospace platforms of the future.”

The AIC was opened with investment from Spirit Europe of circa £25 million together with almost £5mn grant funding from Scottish Enterprise.

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