Cranfield Aerospace Solutions (CAeS), a world-leader in the development of zero-emission aircraft, has unveiled its newly refurbished hangar and R&D facility at the heart of Cranfield University campus.

The facility, leased by CAeS, has undergone major refurbishments as part of Cranfield University’s decarbonisation plan, with significant investment into reducing the building’s carbon footprint.

The modernised and more environmentally friendly hangar will be used to modify CAeS’ Britten-Norman Islander, bound for conversion to a hydrogen-electric propulsion system for entry into service in 2026.

Hydrogen-powered aircraft

It will also be used by CAeS to develop the procedures and processes required for the maintenance of future hydrogen-powered aircraft, while still maintaining its conventional MRO function which specialises in wide-bodied and light aircraft such as Diamond DA 40/42 Series and Piper Singles and Twin Piston Engine Series.

CEO of CAeS Paul Hutton says: “This modernised hangar becomes a classroom of possibilities, where we will not only deliver the intricacies of zero emissions propulsion but also pioneer maintenance procedures for hydrogen-powered aircraft. Our engineers and technologists, fuelled by curiosity and a passion for sustainability, stand ready to lead the charge at the most exciting stage of our growth yet.”

New facilities

Aviation Minister Baroness Vere said: “Cranfield is a historic site for UK aviation: from training RAF pilots and the formation of the College of Aeronautics, to now being at the forefront of emerging technologies like hydrogen fuel-cell aircraft.

“It is apt therefore that these facilities open a year on from publication of the Jet Zero Strategy. Decarbonising aviation will be challenging, but the experience and ingenuity of UK engineers will see us through. And I am proud to see UK companies leading the way.”

The unveiling constitutes the beginning of a new trajectory for CAeS as the company closes in on a proposed merger with British aircraft manufacturer, Britten-Norman, and looks to build on the conversion of the BN Islander with a series of future aircraft optimised around zero-emissions technology.
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