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GKN Aerospace leads STeM project to produce novel winglet

News International-French

4 Nov 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.

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.

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