Summer is upon us and I know many of you are looking forward, or have been on your summer holiday abroad (lucky you).
Modern planes are super-efficient, hence you can fly around the world so cheaply and sometimes cheaper than trains. Some new aircraft are even partly made with plastic. (well, carbon fibre type materials) but have you ever wondered how planes actually fly?
Fundamentally, it’s all to do with simple maths and physics. When lift is greater than weight, it floats in the air and when thrust is greater than drag, it moves forward. It’s a combination of these factors that make planes fly.
It takes a lot of time and effort to get here, a lot of research, experiments and testing. Aerospace is one of the most important sectors for the UK economy, worth approx. £31.8bn, employing 120,000 people and supporting a further 118,000 jobs indirectly, according to data from the ADS group. As you can imagine substantial investment is required to develop new technologies.
The UK government certainly recognise this, as part of the UK Aerospace Research and Technology (UKART) programme (formerly known as ATI programme), we work closely with our sponsor department, Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and our partner the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) to find new and innovative ideas. Expressions of Interest (EOI) are opened monthly and this is the latest call.
To support this, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy Greg Clark recently announced at the 2018 Farnborough International Airshow (FIA) that £343m is being invested by the UK government. This included a key commitment to projects for the greening of aircraft through electric aircraft, hybrid propulsion systems and future materials for aircraft manufacturing to secure the future of the UK industry along with initiatives targeting the Small, Medium Enterprises (SME's) supply chain.
Farnborough International Airshow (FIA) 2018
We were fortunate to be part of the UKRI stand at FIA and witnessed business people from all over the world in their smartest suits on some of the hottest days in UK history, wheeling and dealing, signing billions of pounds worth of contracts.
Two giant aircraft manufacturers continued their never-ending war, trading blows at each other, one would announce a customer order of aircrafts - and the other would hit back with a multi-million-pound deal with another customer.
Meanwhile, companies showcased their best technologies and products, checked out their competitors and prepared battle plans for the future.
The eternal war of innovation and competition, the buzz, the chaos, the excitement all in one place.
UKRI at FIA
This was a great opportunity for us to promote the UKART programme, international collaboration (with Canada and Sweden) and Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF), encouraging companies to invest, improve and innovate. To help them realise what grant funding can do to for their companies we showcased projects funded by Innovate UK and the NESTA flying high challenge.
One colleague of mine even had the privilege of being invited to a chalet (jealous), another was just excited to have the opportunity to be there to network.
If there is one airshow you should go to, this is the one. See you there in 2020.
Who knows what the future holds?
- Would you mind if your next plane to Ibiza is battery-powered?
- Would you get into an Unmanned Air Vehicle (UAV)?
- Would you like your online shopping to be delivered by drones?
It might not be as far away as you think!
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