Composites venture to research aero engine applications

Rolls-Royce has established a joint venture company with GKN Aerospace to carry out research and development into the use of composite materials in aero engine fan blades.

Funding for the work is expected to be approximately £11 million. Rolls-Royce will fund and own 51 per cent of the venture, with GKN Aerospace responsible for 49 per cent.

The joint venture activities will build upon the development of composite blade applications undertaken during the EU-funded VITAL programme, and will combine the expertise of Rolls-Royce advanced engine technologies with GKN Aerospace's composite research and automated manufacturing technologies.

Ric Parker, Rolls-Royce director - research and technology, said: "Rolls-Royce has been working closely with GKN Aerospace on the latest carbon-composite technologies for some time and we look forward to building on this relationship with the formation of the joint venture. The composite technology research that this organisation will undertake is aimed at delivering light-weight and low-cost fan blades for engines for the next generation of airframe applications."

GKN Aerospace chief executive officer Marcus Bryson said: "We have long been a pioneer and driving force in the application of lightweight, high-performance composites to the airframe and it is one of our strategic goals to bring the benefits of composite materials to propulsion systems. This JV represents a critical step towards achieving that goal. Through our partnership with Rolls-Royce, we will achieve a genuine advance in propulsion system technology that will move us towards a lighter, more environmentally efficient aero-engine."


 

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