Airbus opens Wing Technology Development Centre in UK

Airbus has opened a R&D center at its site in Filton, UK to build and test wing demonstrators for future aircraft.

The Wing Technology Development Centre (WTDC) will aim to make wings longer, leaner and lighter to improve fuel efficiency and reduce CO2 emissions from aircraft. Engineers at the WTDC will work on the Wing of Tomorrow (WoT) program, which is exploring new manufacturing and assembly technologies for wings.

Three 17m (56ft) full-scale wing demonstrators are being developed for the WoT program. These are: a wing to test the structural capabilities of new designs and materials and to validate analysis; a fully-equipped demonstrator to test installation technologies and new approaches to equipping the next generation of wings with systems, and a run@rate demonstrator, which will test industrial capability and automation technologies to assess how to build wings at the scale and speed required by the company. 

Sue Partridge, head of Airbus’ Filton site and WoT program said, “The Wing Technology Development Centre will help us to ground our research in practicality. A key element of how we deliver technology for next generation aircraft wings is through, our largest research and technology program led by the team in the UK.

“Last week, we achieved a critical milestone in the program when our second wing demonstrator was completed by the team in Broughton, Wales and delivered to the WTDC. Here it will be prepared for structural testing in our Aerospace Integrated Research and Technology Centre.

“It’s about preparing our people, technology, industrial system, supply chain and digital and physical capabilities for next-generation aircraft. We’re leveraging industry partners and the very best digital tools and automation to identify potential technology bottlenecks that may slow us down in the future. The foundations we lay now will help us build better and faster when the time comes.”

The WTDC adds to Airbus’ existing research and technology footprint in the UK, which includes the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) in Broughton, Wales and both the ZEROe Development Centre and Aerospace Integrated Research & Test Centre (AIRTeC) at its Filton site.

Since 2014, Airbus has been awarded £117 million (US$149 milion) of UK Government funding via the Aerospace Technology Institute for Wing of Tomorrow-related research.


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