AIRC building
Aerospace Integration Research Centre (AIRC) at Cranfield University

The £35 million Aerospace Integration Research Centre (AIRC), which is set to change the way the world thinks about flight, has been officially opened today at Cranfield University.

Funded by Airbus, Rolls-Royce and Cranfield University, following an award from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), the Centre will be a flagship facility for boosting aerospace research capabilities in the UK, cementing the University’s reputation as the leading aerospace research institution in Europe.

Researchers from both the University and business partners, including Airbus and Rolls-Royce, will work under one roof. The Centre will be researching ways of integrating advanced technologies to reduce the time from academic innovation to industrial application.

To enable this, the AIRC is equipped with the latest cutting-edge aerospace research technology including air traffic management (ATM) and unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) laboratories; flight simulators; a virtual wind tunnel; a FANUC robot in the intelligent automation centre; and a 1500 sq m open space work area, currently housing a full-size wing from an Airbus plane.

Professor Sir Peter Gregson, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive, Cranfield University, said: “Facilities such as the AIRC mean Cranfield is at the forefront of changing the way the world thinks about flight. Greater integration between research and world-renowned businesses provides us with the opportunity to tackle some of aerospace’s grand challenges by providing the technologies, facilities and skills that are needed to succeed.”

Trevor Higgs, Head of Landing Gear and UK Senior Site Representative, Airbus, said: “We at Airbus see the AIRC as a key part of the growing research ecosystem the aerospace industry has in the UK, and will help us foster closer relationships with research partners and to accelerate and deliver on our research strategy for the Wing of Tomorrow, to make sure our products remain the best in world.”

Henner Wapenhans, Director of Technology Strategy, Rolls-Royce, added: “We are delighted to be a lead partner with Airbus in the Aerospace Integration Research Centre, which will also strengthen the existing strategic partnership between Rolls-Royce and Cranfield University.

“This new Centre will help develop the next generation of highly skilled engineers and will play an important role in developing the innovative technologies needed to enhance performance, improve efficiency and reduce emissions of future aircraft.”

David Sweeney, Director (Research and Knowledge Exchange), HEFCE, said: “The AIRC is an excellent example of the government’s industrial strategy in action, linking research to industry needs which is what the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund supports.  The high-class facilities and the world-leading research at Cranfield University will contribute directly to the growth of the aerospace industry and the wider UK economy.”

Cranfield is the only university in Europe that brings together major aerospace research facilities such as the AIRC, an operational airport and runway on one connected site. 

Cranfield's Aerospace Integration Research Centre (AIRC) opens
AIRC official opening highlights video

Notes for editors

Cranfield Aerospace

Cranfield is the number one university in Europe for aerospace and the only university in the world to own and run an airport on campus 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..

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.

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. 

About Airbus

Airbus is a global leader in aeronautics, space and related services. In 2016 it generated revenues of €67 billion and employed a workforce of around 134,000. Airbus offers the most comprehensive range of passenger airliners from 100 to more than 600 seats and business aviation products. Airbus is also a European leader providing tanker, combat, transport and mission aircraft, as well as one of the world’s leading space companies. In helicopters, Airbus provides the most efficient civil and military rotorcraft solutions worldwide.

About Rolls-Royce Holdings plc

1. Rolls-Royce’s vision is to be the market-leader in high performance power systems where our engineering expertise, global reach and deep industry knowledge deliver outstanding customer relationships and solutions. We operate across five businesses: Civil Aerospace, Defence Aerospace, Marine, Nuclear and Power Systems.

2. Rolls-Royce has customers in more than 150 countries, comprising more than 400 airlines and leasing customers, 160 armed forces, 4,000 marine customers including 70 navies, and more than 5,000 power and nuclear customers.

3. We have three common themes across all our businesses:

  • Investing in and developing engineering excellence
  • Driving a manufacturing and supply chain transformation which will embed operational excellence in lean, lower-cost facilities and processes
  • Leveraging our installed base, product knowledge and engineering capabilities to provide customers with outstanding service through which we can capture aftermarket value long into the future.

4. Annual underlying revenue was £13.8 billion in 2016, around half of which came from the provision of aftermarket services. The firm and announced order book stood at £80 billion at the end of 2016.

5. In 2016, Rolls-Royce invested £1.3 billion on research and development. We also support a global network of 31 University Technology Centres, which position Rolls-Royce engineers at the forefront of scientific research.

6. Rolls-Royce employs almost 50,000 people in 50 countries. More than 16,500 of these are engineers.

7. The Group has a strong commitment to apprentice and graduate recruitment and to further developing employee skills. In 2016 we recruited 274 graduates and 327 apprentices through our worldwide training programmes.

About the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE)

HEFCE creates and sustains the conditions for a world-leading higher education system. HEFCE provided funding of £10m to the Cranfield AIRC through the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund (UKRPIF), awarded through a competitive process.

The UKRPIF is designed to support investment in higher education research facilities and has four main objectives:

  •          To enhance the research facilities of higher education institutions (HEIs) undertaking world-leading research
  •          To encourage strategic partnerships between HEIs and other organisations active in research
  •          To stimulate additional investment in HE research
  •          To strengthen the contribution of the research base to economic growth.

For more information on the UKRPIF

 

About Cranfield University

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