Aircraft manufacturer Airbus has further invested in its manufacturing and innovation capabilities in the United Kingdom with the opening of the Wing Technology Development Centre (WTDC) at its Filton site.
The newly opened facility will play a vital role in the design, construction, and testing of wing prototypes for next-generation aircraft. The recent launch event was attended by Nusrat Ghani, the UK Minister of State at the Department for Business and Trade.
‘Next Gen’ aircraft wing development
The primary objective of the new WTDC is to employ cutting-edge technology and world-leading demonstrators to enhance the performance of Airbus wings.
While engine optimization is important, making wings longer, leaner, and lighter presents a significant opportunity to improve fuel efficiency, reduce CO2 emissions, and contribute to the aviation industry’s goal of achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Sue Partridge, the Head of Filton site and Wing of Tomorrow Programme at Airbus, emphasizes the practicality of the new Wing Technology Development Centre. She explains that the facility will enable them to ground their research in real-world applications.
The Wing of Tomorrow (WoT) program, spearheaded by the UK team, is Airbus’ largest research and technology initiative dedicated to next-generation aircraft wings.
Recently, the program achieved a key step with the completion of its second wing demonstrator in Broughton, Wales.
“Last week, we achieved a critical milestone in the programme when our second wing demonstrator was completed by the team in Broughton, Wales and delivered to the WTDC,” said Sue Partridge.
“Here it will be prepared for structural testing in our Aerospace Integrated Research and Technology Centre (AIRTeC).”
The demonstrator was then transported to the WTDC, where it will undergo structural testing in the Aerospace Integrated Research and Technology Centre (AIRTeC).
Expediting future production
The WoT program enables Airbus to explore innovative manufacturing and assembly technologies, ensuring that future generations can continue to benefit from advancements in aviation.
By collaborating with industry partners and utilizing state-of-the-art digital tools and automation, Airbus aims to identify potential technology bottlenecks that could impede progress in the future.
The foundation laid today will pave the way for efficient and rapid aircraft development when the time comes.
The establishment of the WTDC complements Airbus’ existing research and technology presence in the UK, which includes the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) in Broughton.
Airbus operations also include the ZEROe Development Centre and Aerospace Integrated Research & Test Centre (AIRTeC) at the Filton site.
Over the years, Airbus has received substantial funding for Wing of Tomorrow-related research from the Aerospace Technology Institute, amounting to £117 million since 2014. This investment demonstrates Airbus’ commitment to driving innovation in the aviation industry and maintaining its position at the forefront of technological advancements.