Call for certainty in aerospace research funding

The UK needs certainty of research and technology funding in order to be in a position to lead on “revolutionary new products” in aerospace, a report has said.

The joint government-industry strategy, ‘Reach for the skies: a strategic vision forUKaerospace’, was published by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills on 10 July. The document was launched on the day that business secretary Vince Cable announced details of a £120 million aerospace research investment.

The report says that industry and government must work together to address barriers to growth to retain theUK’s position as the largest aerospace manufacturer in Europe—second only to theUSglobally.

It estimates that theUKaerospace sector provides over 100,000 jobs and generated £24.2 billion revenue in 2011.

It argues that a long-term strategic technology development plan, backed by “consistent funding” from government, will be key in keeping this lead as competition from both emerging economies and developed manufacturing countries is getting fierce.

Other key factors are “strategic research and development coordination, a harmonised approach to fundamental aerospace R&D and technology application, together with targeted investment,” reads the report.

Beyond 2025 theUKshould ensure it can secure maximum economic return on “future new platforms which may incorporate radical new technologies”. These include taking the lead on “revolutionary new products”, such as laminar-flow wings, open-rotor systems and advanced systems.

In the nearer future, theUKneeds to identify product and manufacturing-process technologies with high economic impact, including large-scale technology demonstrators. The report pledges such priorities will be set out in a business case by September 2012, “showing the levels of public and private investment involved, supported with economic analysis showing the cost and benefits of making such investment”. The government will then consider the case as part of its spending-review process.

Click here for full report: Aerospace strategy