Research showcase addresses future of aerospace propulsion

How academia and industry can solve the challenges of future aircraft propulsion was the focus of an annual showcase held at a major centre for aerospace research at the University of Nottingham this week.

The Institute of Aerospace Technology (IAT) used the day-long event, held on 27 November, to highlight successes from the last two years and to introduce the new IAT Director, Professor Serhiy Bozhko.

The event bought together prominent stakeholders from academia and industry, with almost 80 delegates from multinationals including Airbus, Rolls Royce and Siemens, as well as smaller and mid-sized companies active in the aerospace supply chain. Key academics from the IAT, the University of Nottingham’s Future Propulsion Beacon and the Faculty of Engineering were also in attendance.   

Professor Bozhko explained: “Our showcase offered us a platform to share the IAT’s five key research areas and to hear from industry experts where the challenges lie around future propulsion. We also discussed how we intend to address these through our links within the University of Nottingham, our various funded programmes and our industry partnerships and outreach."

The day began with welcome speeches from Professor Sam Kingman, Pro Vice-Chancellor of the Faculty of Engineering and Professor Serhiy Bozhko. Delegates also heard from aerospace industry keynote speakers, including Dr Mykhaylo Filipenko, Head of Center of Competence ‘Electric Machines High Power’ at Siemens; Mark Scully Head of Technology from the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) and John Salmon, Project Engineer, Technology Integration and Vision 20 Future Programmes from Rolls Royce.

Dr Ruth Mallors-Ray OBE, consultant to the aerospace industry, moderated a debate where the audience asked questions around future propulsion and the challenges around government and industry targets that lie ahead. Panel members including Professor Chris Gerada, Associate Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Industrial Strategy, Business Engagement and Impact) and Professor of Electrical Machines at the University of Nottingham; Dan Hodson, R&T Partnerships and Contracts Manager at Airbus; John Salmon of Rolls Royce and Mark Scully of the ATI.

The afternoon featured two breakout sessions: the first, a spotlight on Aircraft Supply Chain and SME Support, which included talks by Charles Boneham, Managing Director of Boneham and Turner, a local supplier of precision engineered solutions to the aerospace industry and a quality workshop taster by Paul Wilson of UK QMS.

The second, focused on aerospace skills for the future, brought together delegates to hear a presentation by Martin Schofield, Chair of the Aerospace Engineering Industrial Advisory Board at the University of Nottingham about meeting the skills gap of industry-ready aerospace engineers with the new Bachelor and Masters Aerospace Engineering courses at the University.

Dan Hodson from Airbus provided an overview of future skills needs from an industry perspective and second-year aerospace engineering student, Raveena Karia talked of her passion for engineering and her ambition to become a researcher to develop the breakthrough technologies that are needed by the sector.

Delegates completed the day with a choice of two tours, the new Advanced Manufacturing Building (AMB) research facilities and a tour combining the Gas Turbine and Transmissions Research Centre’s three shaft test facility and the Aerospace Technology Centre (ATC) - home of the IAT and the Aircraft Electric Power Systems Innovations Laboratory.

“The event has been a great success and we look forward to implementing and building upon the positive ideas and feedback that we received,” added Professor Bozhko.