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UK minister opens £multi-million facility to develop efficient, lightweight aero-engine technology

News International-French

18 Jan 2012

The facility has been developed by CTAL, a joint venture between Rolls-Royce and GKN Aerospace, to pilot pioneering manufacturing processes for aero-engine fan blades and fan-cases made of composite materials.  Lighter, but as strong as traditional metal components, composite blades and cases could improve aero-engine performance and reduce their environmental impact by reducing the overall weight of the engine.

Mark Prisk MP, Minister of State for Business and Enterprise opened last week a facility that will develop new composite aero engine components.


CTAL’s £14.8m facility will employ 70 highly skilled engineers on the Isle of Wight and has been  supported with £7.4m in funding from the UK Government. Business Minister Mark Prisk said: “The UK has the world’s largest aerospace industry outside the USA with a 17 per cent share of the global market, which is worth approximately £23bn per year to our nation’s economy. I am pleased to officially open this state-of-the-art facility and to see for myself the work of GKN Aerospace and Rolls-Royce in developing sustainable aviation technologies that will have benefits for marine, health, construction and energy sectors. It is ventures like this that are helping to place Britain as a world leader in the growth area of low carbon solutions, while affirming our commitment to providing the technological needs of the future.”


The new facility will support the final stages of work through the UK government funded Environmental Lightweight Fan (ELF) collaborative research programme. The goal of this programme, which commenced in 2007, has been to develop, prove and bring to market readiness advanced, high-rate production processes for new carbon fibre engine fan blades. These blades will improve aircraft performance and reduce engine emissions. This final phase is focused on optimising volume manufacturing processes and is complemented by the addition of lightweight fan systems work under the ‘SILOET’ (Strategic Investment in LOw-carbon Engine Technology) collaborative research programme, also UK government funded.


This programme aims to accelerate the development and introduction of low carbon aircraft engine technology with a consequent effect on engine fuel economy and emissions.


About CTAL

CTAL is a Rolls-Royce and GKN Aerospace joint venture established in 2008 to bring together Rolls-Royce’s expertise in advanced engine technologies with GKN Aerospace’s composite research and automated manufacturing capabilities.