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Work completed on Cranfield University’s £35M Aerospace Integration Research Centre.

The development is now home to the University’s researchers and industrial partners, who will be investigating ways of integrating advanced technologies and reducing time from academic innovation to industrial application. The centre will bring together researchers from Airbus and Rolls Royce, amongst others, under one roof to look at the most effective ways of integrating the aircraft and its subsystems as well as developing the use of automation.

Professor Iain Gray CBE, Cranfield’s Director of Aerospace, said: “The AIRC will foster close collaboration between leading researchers, the Centre partners and the wider aerospace supply chain. It will directly contribute to the competitiveness and prosperity of the aerospace industry and the wider UK and European economy.

“Work at the Centre will focus on the development of new integrated propulsion, airframe and subsystems technologies with resulting benefits in the performance, emission control and efficiency targets of future aircraft.”

Work began in July 2015 on the three-storey building, with designs provided by Nottingham based CPMG.

A number of features are being accommodated in the new building, with the ground floor hosting a 1,500sq m open laboratory space capable of housing large airframe integration projects. The lab will be used to test intelligent robots in structural assembly and features 18m by 6m sliding doors to allow demonstrator aircraft into the facility.

A presentation and visualisation space is situated on the second floor, with state-of-the-art simulation facilities for air traffic management and large aircraft, to test new ideas and impact. While feedback screens re linked to the visualisation lab and the pod meeting area.

The top floor houses an open plan office environment for the researchers to collaborate.

Other features of the building are: a full-size aircraft wing and a FANUC CR-35iA robot – which can operate in an uncaged, open space, and determine the proximity of a person or object so it will stop if touched.

Rolls-Royce, Airbus, HEFCE (the Higher Education Funding Council for England) and Cranfield University have co-funded the building.

Cranfield is the only university in Europe that brings together major aerospace research facilities, including the Aerospace Integration Research Centre (AIRC), its airport and runway on one connected site.

Tim Mackley, Head of the AIRC said: “This is an exciting day, marking a significant milestone in the journey towards a more integrated approach to research between academia and industry with an aim of developing innovative and integrated solutions for aerospace.”

An official opening of the Centre will take place later this year.

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