GKN’s UK Global Technology Centre (GTC) is a facility that brings people together to collaborate on the technology which will create the aircraft of the future.
The GTC opened its doors this autumn, providing 10,000 sq m of space dedicated to sustainable aviation research and development including hydrogen propulsion technologies, advanced composite structures for electric aircraft, additive manufacturing and industry 4.0 processes to enable the high rate production of aircraft structures. The centre was jointly funded by GKN Aerospace (£17m) and the UK Government (£15m), through the Aerospace Technology Institute.
Russ Dunn, Chief Technology Officer of GKN Aerospace explained: “The GTC is all about bringing together great people and capability from across our business ecosystems, to collaborate together, to bring technology to the future sustainable aircraft. That’s what we’re all about.”
“Challenges of aerospace are broad”
“We can’t do everything. The challenges of aerospace are quite broad, to develop the very best in future aircraft to introduce brand new technologies, there’s a lot of ingredients to that. And not one company on its own, can actually develop the depth and the breadth to go across all of those.”
He added that the company would be working with others within the sector, combining capabilities to deliver sustainable goals. He added: “We’ve only been open for six months and already, we’ve designed and manufactured and delivered the first empennage and wings for an all electric demonstrator aircraft. So really developing the agility to bring our airframe and design capability to market quickly, has been a really, really important journey and learning for us.”
GKN Aerospace has also launched a new Hydrogen Propulsion Programme this year which will develop a system level understanding which will complement its experience in additive manufacturing.
“A set of skills we’ve never had before”
Dunn explained: “The main centres of capability here will be absolutely composites and in particular, airframes for both short range aircraft and for single aisle aircraft, additive manufacturing and in the future. And starting this year hydrogen propulsion, the most exciting thing is actually just the people that we have already got some really, really talented young people coming to join us that we’ve been recruiting people from across the aerospace industry in a set of skills that we’ve never had before. We’re creating a centre which culturally is very inclusive, that values the different knowledge and skills and capabilities that different people bring to the party. And it’s all about the culture that allows those people to thrive and do their best every day.”