Leading aerospace universities are creating a national consortium to provide the global aerospace community with a centralised point of engagement to the UK’s top university aerospace research capabilities.
Embracing the full aviation spectrum (airlines, aircraft, airspace and airports), the National Aerospace Research Consortium (NARC) will enhance the UK’s already leading position within the sector and provide a clear means of communication with equivalent national organisations and multi-national initiatives.
NARC will align itself with the Aerospace Technology Institute’s established four technology pillars (Aircraft of the Future; Future Propulsion; Smart, Connected and Electric Aircraft of the Future; and Aero Structures of the Future), with an additional National Airborne Test stream.
The Consortium aims to create a UK-wide infrastructure of accessible, integrated and world-class research facilities to support each pillar. The universities that currently make up NARC have already started work on the Future Propulsion pillar with a collaborative proposal for a network of advanced electric and hybrid-electric propulsion development facilities.
NARC will also seek to enhance the flow of highly qualified aerospace engineers of the future through closer integration of graduate and postgraduate learning provision.
Through the combination of networked national facilities, integrated learning of the highest quality and a central point of access, NARC is aiming to make a significant contribution to the UK’s presence within the aerospace sector.
The founding member universities of NARC are: University of Bristol; University of Cambridge; Cranfield University; Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine; University of Manchester; University of Nottingham; Queen’s University Belfast; University of Sheffield; University of Southampton and the University of Strathclyde.
Professor Iain Gray, Director of Aerospace at Cranfield University, who is acting as co-ordinator for NARC, said: “The National Aerospace Research Consortium (NARC), consisting of the UK’s leading aerospace universities, will aim to directly support UK-based industry through the provision of accessible world-class research facilities, future skills development and centralised research co-ordination. We aim to put NARC in the same league as other international entities, such as NASA, ONERA or NRC, and support the UK as a global leader in future aerospace research.”
Dr Simon Weeks, Chief Technology Officer of the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), said: “At the ATI, we welcome a strong and co-ordinated university research base that is able to support the aerospace sector and further develop the UK’s international reputation for high-quality research. The NARC initiative, led by a number of the UK’s leading aerospace universities, represents a significant step forward in creating a national entity that can co-ordinate and promote the excellent work undertaken by our leading academic teams.”
ADS Chief Executive, Paul Everitt, said: “The UK science and academic community has an international reputation for excellence across the aerospace industry. Greater co-ordination between these leading universities to more effectively support industrial priorities will add significant value to UK capability. It is great to see this positive and pro-active initiative taking shape and it will help ensure early stage research can move more quickly through to industrial exploitation here in the UK.
“The UK aerospace Industrial Strategy and its focus on productivity, innovation and skills relies on great science research and a flow of top quality students into aerospace careers. The National Aerospace Research Consortium will be a further boost to the sector at this most important time.”
Founding members of NARC have added their support to the initiative:
Professor Brian G. Falzon, Head of School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Queen’s University Belfast, said: “The invitation to become one of the founding members of the proposed National Aerospace Research Consortium (NARC) is a tremendous endorsement of the world-class aerospace-related research that is conducted at Queen’s University Belfast. Being part of NARC will translate to enhanced research opportunities for Queen’s, building on and extending our current research activities in advanced aerostructures, future materials, propulsion and simulation technologies. By working in partnership with members of NARC, we will create a synergistic critical mass of research activity in these areas, which I am confident will lead to new breakthroughs for the benefit of the global aerospace community.”
Professor Nishan Canagarajah, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research at the University of Bristol, said: “As one of the UK’s leading aerospace research universities, the University is delighted to be a founding member of the National Aerospace Research Consortium (NARC). This initiative is an excellent way for the UK’s top universities to work together to provide the UK aerospace industry with access to world-leading research expertise, skills and facilities together with talented young research engineers.”
Pro-Vice Chancellor for the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Nottingham, Professor Andy Long, said: “The University of Nottingham has an established research track record in more electric aircraft and electro-mechanical propulsion technologies and is very excited to be part of this consortium which is the first of its kind for UK aerospace research. NARC will bring together a core group of leading aerospace universities to work with industry to strategically anchor and attract electrified propulsion innovation activities in the UK and ensure a first-mover competitive advantage.”
Professor S Mark Spearing, Vice President (Research and Enterprise) Professor of Engineering Materials at the University of Southampton, said: “The University of Southampton enthusiastically welcomes the formation of the National Aerospace Research Consortium. In an increasingly internationally competitive sector, it is vital that UK-based industry has access to world-leading research in order to strengthen its competitive advantage. The universities represented in the consortium already work collaboratively on many aerospace research projects, and NARC will help formalise this situation as well as provide greater external visibility and better access to industrial stakeholders.”
Professor Sandy Smith, Director of the Rolls-Royce University Technology Centre at the University of Manchester, said: “The environmental impact of transportation provides an immense challenge for aerospace. The formation of the National Aerospace Research Consortium (NARC) is a significant stepping stone in meeting this challenge and putting the UK at the forefront of international aerospace research."
Vice President and Head of the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Sheffield, Professor Mike Hounslow, said “The National Aerospace Research Consortium is a welcome initiative that builds on the world-leading aerospace research carried out across UK universities. The University of Sheffield looks forward to working with our academic and industrial partners and to playing a significant role in shaping and transforming the aerospace research agenda."
About Cranfield University
Cranfield University is a specialist postgraduate university that is a global leader for education and transformational research in technology and management.