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SEEDA invests 2.6 million to support research into revolutionary light-weight planes of the future

14 May 2008

New eco-efficient light weight planes of the future that will help reduce the environmental impact of aviation are being backed by £2.6 million funding from SEEDA, the South East England Development Agency.

The investment in the Next Generation Composite Wing (NGCW) research programme is being led by Airbus and SEEDA's backing will help secure long term aerospace jobs in the South East by enabling in the supply chain to be part of future technological developments in aerospace.

The NGCW programme will help reduce the environmental impact of future aircraft by developing the skills required to use weight-saving composite materials. Reducing the weight of aircraft means burning less fuel and so fewer emissions.

A consortium of four companies within the South East has been set up and includes QinetiQ in Farnborough which is a key technology partner with Airbus, GKN Aerospace Services on the Isle of Wight, GE Aviation in Hamble, nr Southampton and Eaton Aerospace in Fareham.

"SEEDA is investing in this important programme to help the region's aerospace and defence companies to extend their capabilities and support the UK in retaining its place at the front of this fast moving, high technology sector. If we do not innovate, future contracts and prime companies will go to other countries. We must not underestimate the international competition and expertise in this sector and we are mindful that many hundreds of jobs and supply chain companies depend on projects of this kind."

Jim Brathwaite, SEEDA Chairman.

"I am delighted that QinetiQ is a key technology partner in NGCW. Our work with Airbus and other partners will accelerate the roll-out of environmentally-friendly aircraft ensuring the aviation industry meets its obligations to reduce emissions. The programme will also help secure long-term, competitive aerospace jobs in the South East of England."

Clive Richardson, Chief Operating Officer for QinetiQ's EMEA business.

Airbus UK currently employs over 10,000 people in the UK, while the entire Aerospace Industry in the UK is believed to support over 276,000 jobs (direct and indirect) in total. A significant portion, could be lost the UK is not well-positioned to compete for and win future Airbus work. It is estimated that securing work on next generation aircraft wing design and manufacture in the future will be worth in excess of £650 million per annum to the South East of England economy.




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