Boeing has joined the £65 million Digital Aviation Research and Technology Centre (DARTeC) which is due to become operational this summer at Cranfield University.

The Centre is spearheading the UK’s research into digital aviation technology and will include an experimental airport terminal and a ‘hangar of the future’, fully instrumented for advanced digital maintenance repair and operations.

Boeing and Cranfield have been working together for more than 25 years on a range of research and technology projects, including the development of new aircraft concepts and studies into passenger behaviour, cabin refurbishment and management processes.

In 2008, Cranfield became host to Boeing’s Centre of Excellence in Integrated Vehicle Health Management – now called the IVHM Centre – which joined DARTeC as a founding member in 2017.

Construction of DARTeC building now underway

Boeing students have also completed PhDs, MSc and MBA courses at Cranfield, and the University is working with Boeing’s Learning Together programme to provide learning options for Boeing’s global employees.

Professor Graham Braithwaite, Project Lead and Director of Transport Systems at Cranfield, said: “It is a huge honour to have Boeing joining us at this exciting time for the project, with the construction of the DARTeC building now well underway at Cranfield’s global research airport. We look forward to building on our longstanding relationship and working together with other partners to advance the application of digital technologies in the air transport sector.”

Sir Martin Donnelly, president of Boeing Europe, and managing director of Boeing UK and Ireland, said: “Boeing’s support of DARTeC is the exciting next chapter in our quarter century partnership with Cranfield.”

DARTeC aims to address the research challenges facing the aviation industry such as:

  1. the integration of drones into civilian airspace
  2. increasing the efficiency of airports through technological advances
  3. creating safe, secure shared airspace through secure data communication infrastructures
  4. increasing the reliability and availability of aircraft utilising self-sensing/aware and self-healing/repair technologies

The centre will host game-changing technologies such as the first operational digital air traffic control tower in the UK and next-generation radar technologies on the University’s licensed airport to create a unique research and development environment.

Boeing joins Aveillant, Blue Bear Systems Research, BOXARR, the Connected Places Catapult, Cranfield University, Inmarsat, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the IVHM Centre, Saab, the Satellite Applications Catapult and Thales in the consortium which has also received co-investment support from Research England.