Start of building work for the AIRC
Work begins on the Aerospace Integration Research Centre

Construction of the new £35 million Aerospace Integration Research Centre (AIRC) at Cranfield University is set for take-off.

Site clearance began a few weeks ago for world-renowned Cranfield’s collaboration with Centre co-investment partners Airbus and Rolls-Royce which will influence and change the design of future aircraft.

The University’s Chief Executive and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Peter Gregson, was joined by invited guests from both partners and other prestigious visitors including Vicky Ford (MEP for the East of England) for the official start of construction event at the Cranfield campus on Monday (27 July) lunchtime.

Professor Iain Gray CBE, Cranfield’s Director of Aerospace, was also present along with colleagues from aerospace and the wider University. Professor Gray said: “The AIRC will foster close collaboration between leading researchers, the Centre partners and the wider aerospace supply chain. It will directly contribute to the competitiveness and prosperity of the aerospace industry and the wider UK and European economy.

“Work at the Centre will focus on the development of new integrated propulsion, airframe and subsystems technologies with resulting benefits in the performance, emission control and efficiency targets of future aircraft.”

The University has liaised extensively with its architects, Nottingham-based CPMG, in the design of the new three-storey building. The ground floor will comprise open laboratory space capable of housing large airframe integration projects, with presentation and visualisation space and state-of-the-art simulation facilities on the middle floor. Researchers and engineers from Cranfield and its partner companies will be working closely together in an open plan office environment on the top floor.

Vicky Ford MEP added: “Cranfield has a unique capacity to turn engineering ideas into reality. The new facility will help develop the cleaner, quieter aircraft of the future and is crucial to maintaining UK's leading position in the global aeronautical sector. This is a very exciting project for Cranfield and for British engineering.”

The AIRC project’s £35 million investment consists of co-funding from Rolls-Royce and Airbus, HEFCE (the Higher Education Funding Council for England) and from Cranfield itself. It is due to open for business in autumn 2016 and is part of a broader £54 million investment in the University’s aerospace and transport facilities.

A £9 million intelligent mobility research facility – known as MUEAVI (Multi-User Environment for Autonomous Vehicle Innovation) – will be used in the development of autonomous vehicles and the associated systems needed to integrate technologies into our everyday lives. This is due to be built and to open next year along with a new £10 million Integrated Transport Systems Engineering Centre which will support teaching, training and executive education development in the area of intelligent mobility and transport systems.

About Cranfield University

Cranfield University is a specialist postgraduate university that is a global leader for education and transformational research in technology and management.

Cranfield Aerospace

Cranfield is the number one university in Europe for aerospace. We are the only university in Europe to own and run an airport and to have airline status. We have been at the forefront of aerospace technology for 70 years.

As the UK's most business-engaged University, we have long-term relationships and close commercial partnerships with many companies in the sector including Airbus, BAE Systems, Boeing and Rolls-Royce.

Our education, research and consultancy is enhanced by our world-class facilities including the National Flying Laboratory Centre – a unique national asset which provides a hands-on, flying experience, along with flight deck simulators and industrial-scale gas turbine engine test facilities used for performance and diagnostic studies. The Aerospace Integration Research Centre, a £35 million innovative centre built in partnership with Airbus and Rolls-Royce, fosters collaboration between industry and academia. A new £65 million Digital Aviation Research and Technology Centre will also be built at Cranfield to spearhead the UK’s research into digital aviation technology.

Notable Cranfield alumni include Warren East, CEO of Rolls-Royce plc and Ralph Hooper, who attended the College of Aeronautics at Cranfield in 1946 and went on to become one of the UK’s most important post-war aircraft designers, creating the Hawker Harrier jump jet.