Kwasi Kwarteng, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, has formally launched Airbus’ Aerospace Integrated Research and Test Centre (AIRTeC) in Filton, Bristol.
AIRTeC is a £40 million, state-of-the-art research and testing facility jointly funded by the Government’s ATI programme and Airbus. Covering more than 10,000m2 of gross internal floor space – the equivalent of two football pitches – the Centre is designed to undertake structural testing of large-scale aircraft assemblies, from full-size wings down to the individual components and materials used in aircraft design. It provides the most advanced working environment and tools for Airbus alongside external suppliers, partners, and academia, to deliver the next generation of aircraft wing, landing-gear systems and fuel system designs.
Furthermore, the facility is a key asset in helping industry accelerate the design, manufacture, testing, certification, infrastructure, and commercial operation of zero-emission aircraft through sustained investment in R&T and R&D and fostering greater collaboration across sectors.
Companies in other sectors, such as maritime and nuclear, along with universities can also utilise AIRTeC’s innovative, highly flexible, and easily adaptable environment, which includes 65,000m2 of state-of-the-art specialist test space, a 40-metre-long strong floor, and a 14 x 10 metre strong wall capable of testing full-size wings – with a force equivalent to the weight of 240 cars – using a 25MN high-capacity loading test machine.
The facility also includes labs, collaborative office space, and reconfigurable testing areas. This combination of test assets is unique in Europe. The facility will enable Airbus and its partners to develop new and cutting-edge designs and is central to Airbus’ Wing of Tomorrow programme, which is exploring the best materials, manufacturing, and assembly techniques to help deliver more fuel-efficient, cleaner aircraft. The Airbus Filton site is also home to a 3D- printing plateau and digital manufacturing laboratory, as well as the Airbus low-speed wind tunnel.
Airbus employs about 2,800 people at its site in Filton. The Company is the largest commercial aerospace company in the UK, as well as its biggest civil aerospace exporter, employing more than 13,500 people at 25 sites across the country.
Kwasi Kwarteng, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, said: “The launch of this fantastic new centre comes as Airbus prepares to ramp up production of its most popular aircraft towards the end of the year – a clear vote of confidence in Britain as we build back better from the pandemic.
“These top-class research and testing facilities will be used to continue the spirit of innovation for which we are world renowned and will produce the cleaner, more efficient flights of tomorrow.
“This is great news, not just for Filton but for the rest of the UK which will benefit from jobs in the supply chain. I am proud of the government’s support for the centre’s construction, showing we are leaving no stone unturned in our drive to make the aviation industry cleaner in the fight against climate change.”
John Harrison, General Counsel and UK Chairman of Airbus, said: “Airbus makes a significant contribution to the UK aerospace industry and we are delighted to welcome the Secretary of State to help us showcase our fantastic facility. AIRTeC will take our research and testing capabilities at Filton to the next level and will make us even more competitive for the future.”