The quarterly newsletter of the Midlands Aerospace Alliance Issue 7 Spring 2006
Midlands firms keen to latch onto benefits MAA to drive
work with new
China attracts technology
SUPPLY chain technology
partnerships are to be
organised by the Midlands
Aerospace Alliance (MAA)
as part of a new £700,000
The ATEP programme is an
initiative of Advantage West
A NEW kind of China fever is Midlands, the area’s regional
gripping the Midlands aerospace development agency, based
industry. Companies large and on the National Aerospace
small see the giant to the East – Technology Strategy (NATS)
buoyed by three consecutive that seeks to promote key prod-
years of 10% economic growth – uct and process technologies.
as the land of opportunity. Under its contract, the
A major market in itself, China is MAA will promote technology
also a gateway to Asia and, per- development in the regional
haps most interesting for those in supply chain, encompassing
the Midlands supply chain, an research institutions, business
increasingly capable low-cost agencies and small- and
manufacturing centre. medium-sized enterprises.
Leading the way is Rolls-Royce, The technology-driven
which has a number of collabora- projects can be in any areas
tive relationships. The oldest is including sensors, smart
Xian XR Aerocomponents, a joint materials, prognostics,
A modern Chinese aerospace plant supplying a global market.
venture with Xian Aero Engine advanced electric drives and
Company, since 2002 an termed it an “important develop- selling or even just protecting your propulsion systems identified
approved classified parts supplier ment” that would allow Umeco to long-term position. Above all, by the NATS as vital to global
to Rolls-Royce. serve present customers and avoid doing nothing.” competitiveness.
The market and production pos- expand into the rapidly growing East Midlands Development They can support or be
sibilities have attracted Midlands- domestic aerospace market. Agency (emda) is considering part of any of the six potential
based Doncasters to carry out Umeco has an agreement with opening an office in China. national projects identified in
feasibility studies on a setting up another Midlands company, David Wallace, emda interna- the NATS. Start-up of the
facilities there. “It’s partly about Sigma Precision Components, tional director, said the agency was national projects depends on
having a low-cost source for our to exploit the potential of Sigma’s looking at “wider opportunities” to successful bids for funding.
products,” managing director planned manufacturing plant open doors for Midlands compa-
aerospace Mike Askew told Flight at Chengdu. nies. emda also plans a China I The MAA has published a
International, “but the strategic Part of Sigma’s offering is a Trade Bureau in the East Midlands. newsletter calling for ATEP
issue is market access.” service to help other companies Smiths Aerospace is among proposals. For a copy please
Warwickshire-based Umeco find their feet in China. Managing Midlands companies already man- contact the MAA Secretariat.
Components has teamed up with director Mark Johnson is in no ufacturing in China. It recently
CAIB of China to set up a compo- doubt that “any aerospace com- opened the second phase of a
nent distribution joint venture in pany wanting to secure its future” structures facility in Suzhou,
China to support Western primes. must have a strategy on China. following its engine components
Chief executive Jason Crabtree “This could be partnering, buying, facility which started up in 2004.
Beaufort tool up
A NOTTINGHAMSHIRE-based aerospace
component supplier is to invest in a new
£1 million machining centre after receiving
a £90,000 grant from the East Midlands
Development Agency (emda).
It will be the third such investment in
three years for Beaufort Engineering which
manufactures critical and complex compo-
nents for the landing gear, airframe and
The project will enable the company,
part of the BBA Group, to improve its man-
ufacturing capability and global competi-
Aerospace seminar presenters at Cosford.
The grant was made by emda under the
Selective Finance for Investment in
England (SFIE) scheme. Opportunity knocks in aerospace
I Companies considering applications THE VIBRANT Midlands aerospace supply chain stands poised to receive fresh
for an SFIE grant are reminded that the injections of skill and commitment following a seminar on diversifying into the sector.
scheme in the East Midlands will close to More than 80 Midlands businessmen heard the challenges and rewards first-hand
new applications on 30 November 2006 from a variety of companies already active in the industry including Rolls-Royce,
because the map of eligible areas across Smiths, Hampson and Burcas. The occasion was a seminar run by the Midlands
Europe is being re-drawn. Aerospace Alliance, Advantage West Midlands (AWM), Wolverhampton City Council
and the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS-WM).
Burcas wins new MAA chief executive Andrew Mair said aerospace is a highly visible potential
source of new business to manufacturing companies. “Aerospace markets are noto-
Japanese order riously hard to enter, however, due in part to exacting certification standards,” he
said, adding that events such as this provide “a valuable opportunity to clarify routes
A JAPANESE aerospace company has into a growing industry.”
selected a Midlands-based precision Jim Coyle, AWM aerospace cluster manager, said the wealth of manufacturing
engineering manufacturer to provide excellence in the Midlands makes aerospace a logical growth area. He said:
machining for landing gear parts. “Manufacturing companies, including ones which have been specialising in making
This new commission to Burcas of parts for the automotive industry, should be looking to diversify and aerospace pres-
Birmingham is a result of the firm’s ents an opportunity if the right support is given.”
participation in an aerospace-focused
trade mission to Tokyo at the end of last high productivity, reliably repeats to a
year. The name of the client and value of micron or better and is particularly suitable
the work were not disclosed. for the profile grinding of tungsten carbide.
The trade mission was organised by the A £30,000 business development grant
UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) under the West Midlands LiftOff
Aerospace Sector Team in conjunction with programme has enabled Burcas to
the British Embassy in Tokyo and allowed upgrade existing technologies such as
UK companies to showcase their CAD and advanced CNC machine tools,
capabilities through seminars and develop new processes and investigate
meetings with Japanese industry contacts. the possible use of new materials.
The new Wasino Meister G3 in operation
The timing of the mission was
particularly good as the Japanese
aerospace industry is currently very active turbine shafts. “We have high hopes this Aspirations high
in several major multi-national programmes
with Boeing, Bombardier and Embraer.
new order will mark the start of a long-
term relationship.” for Farnborough
Chris Hayward of Burcas said the Meanwhile, Burcas has expanded its WHEN Farnborough International opens its
company has particular expertise in the capacity with the installation of a new gates this year on 17 July, the MAA will be
creation of large, complex turned parts precision forming grinder. The Wasino ready and waiting to showcase the expert-
such as blisks, compressor discs and Meister G3 combines high accuracy with ise and capabilities of the Midlands region.
aerospace in the midlands
The activity will revolve around the MAA MAA hopes to capture improved
stand – C11 in Hall 1 – where 14 member information about the capabilities in the
companies will be mounting their own region in time for Farnborough, to make its
exhibitions under the group’s banner. promotional activities for all MAA members
The exhibiting companies are: more effective at the exhibition.
I Abbey Metal Finishing
I Burcas Ltd
I Contechs Consulting Ltd Cosford angles
I Freudenberg Simrit LP for RAF training
I HS Marstons THE Midlands aerospace sector will receive
I Icon Polymer Ltd a major boost if RAF Cosford is selected as
I Industrial Tooling Corporation the site for a major new military training
I IPI Solutions establishment. If selected for Britain’s
I M-Tec Engineering Solutions consolidated Defence College of
I Rojac Tooling Technologies Aeronautical Engineering (DCAE), it could
I TEC Transnational trigger a multi-billion pound expansion with
Standing room: MAA at Le Bourget.
I Visioneering Ltd 2,300 new jobs and spin-offs for the private
I Wide Range Elastomers combination of space and style has sector in greater skills availability.
MAA Marketing Manager Grace significantly raised the MAA profile. Cosford is at present the RAF’s largest
Sheppard said the take-up of space on the Meeting areas and facilities will also be training establishment for ground trades. It
group’s stand was “extremely positive” and available on the 120m2 stand for the use of is the headquarters of the DCAE and hosts
underlined the impact the MAA had made other members who are visiting the show. other MoD activities including technical
at key trade shows over the past two More details will be made available as the training; a photography school, and
years. “Strong stand design helps,” she show nears. For information on the MAA at physical training.
added, “and makes us more effective at Farnborough, please contact Grace. The site is championed in the MoD
promoting the Midlands aerospace sector.” A more in-depth survey of MAA contest by a consortium that includes BAE
The Farnborough stand follows the members will accompany this year’s Systems and the Wolverhampton-based
approach of previous shows where a membership renewal forms. In this way the construction company Carillion.
focus on composites sponsored by
The strength and durability of composite materials made
R&D pays them ideal for the aerospace industry. Though usually
commercial thought of for aerospace structures, a wide variety of
dividends applications from electro-mechanical systems to seals
ACADEMIA in the
Midlands is working
as well as structures are being developed by Midlands-
hard to bring the based aerospace organisations.
benefits of the research
environment to the
Ltd, established by Prof
Andrew Pollard of
pace with product
University’s School of
and supplies driveshafts
environments, such as
motor sport and in wind
turbines. Current clients
include French kitplane
designer LH Aviation. COMPOSITES have a strong case for being
Further north, crowned the ‘ultimate material’. Lightweight,
Nottingham University strong and workable, these materials are already
is leading the field in proving their worth on the Airbus A380 and the
resin transfer moulding, Boeing 787 projects.
a cost-effective Materials, production methods and tooling from
alternative to autoclave the Midlands – some of which were originally
processing. The developed for the automotive industry – are now
technology is primarily being used at the cutting edge of breakthrough
used in the automotive composites technology.
industry but has good Helping coordinate efforts is the UK’s National New Tufnol Grade 10G/48 epoxy glass fabric
potential in aerospace. Composites Network (NCN) which aims max- laminate machined components.
In another project, imise the development potential of the industry by Four Winds kit planes, and exterior fairings for the
researchers at the networking expertise, R&D activity and resources New Piper Aircraft Meridian and Malibu.
university are using across technologies and industry sector. Regional Working on the MOD’s ASTOR programme is
their TexGen tool to aid centres of excellence, where companies can Cobham Composites, part of the Avionics
those using advanced obtain hands-on support and expert advice, are Division of Cobham plc, which operates from two
textile composites currently being set up. facilities in Leicestershire. It produces the main
by creating computer Composites can, quite literally, be out of this array housing and structural support for the ASTOR
models from base world in their uses. The airframe of the history- programme radar array which are fitted to the air-
fibres and polymer making SpaceShipOne was built using LTM45EL frames of Bombardier Global Express business jets.
properties. prepregs, technology developed in Derbyshire by Tooling specialist Atlas Composites, part of
“These models Advanced Composites Group (ACG). The the Cobham group, has applied expertise gained
provide a virtual testing group is in the process of in motorsport on programmes
environment,” explains introducing the next genera- including the Apache
Prof Andrew Long. tion of low temperature cure Longbow, Nimrod and EFA.
“Ultimately this will prepregs, including a materi- Since AS9100 accreditation
allow us to optimise al known as MTM45. in 2005, Atlas has doubled its
materials for particular ACG is involved in several customer base and is
applications, replacing other projects, including expanding into manufactur-
the traditional ‘trial and Fubacomp (see panel), ing composite flying parts.
error’ approach.” Advanced Low Cost Aircraft The two Meggitt-owned
Structures (ALCAS) research, Working with electro-conductive textile. Dunlop sites in the Midlands
aerospace in the midlands
European group develops fully wound BJ fuselage section
ACG is a member of Fubacomp, a pan-European consortium aiming to
produce a fully wound fuselage section for a business jet using fibre
placement technology and incorporating components into the structure.
The other partners in the consortium, which is part funded by the
European Commission, are Dassault Aviation, BAE Systems,
Eurocopter, Alenia, Brunel University and CEAT.
ACG designed and manufactured the mandrel for the fibre place-
ment of the fuselage section. Exacting specifications and perform-
ance qualities of the tool led to its manufacture from carbon fibre rein-
forced epoxy using ACG’s proven LTM tooling route.
Collapsible multi-part carbon fibre mandrel for fibre The company says this was the first time large-scale collapsible
placement (courtesy of ACG Ltd) tools have been manufactured.
are both heavily involved with composites technol- try. Recent successes for the business include the
ogy. Dunlop Bestobell in Leicestershire designs, Lockheed-Martin Joint Strike Fighter and the
develops and precision-engineers more than 300 Airbus A380, both of which were secured through
seals, for engine and airframe applications, to the Alliance partnership with Honeywell ALS. This
demanding customer, industry and regulatory Dunlop division pioneered metal matrix compos-
standards. In Coventry, Dunlop integrates com- ites for lighter aircraft wheels.
posite structures with electro-thermal de-icing The Midlands has a strong research base.
technology for engine air inlets, leading edges Nottingham-based Fibretech has been working
and ancillary components. with academics from Cambridge University to
Dunlop Aerospace Braking Systems in develop a new metal composite. Panels of the
Coventry designs, develops and manufactures material, made from thin stainless sheets with a
carbon composite braking systems for the indus- bonded stainless fibre core structure,
are being produced at
Fibretech’s newly expanded factory.
Indestructible Paint Ltd, based in
Birmingham, is developing a coatings
system for composites that will meet
the fire resistance requirements for
composite nacelles made by Italian
firm Vulcanair. Indestructible also
makes a new low VOC in-mould coat-
ing for composite airframe panels for
the advanced light helicopter, made by
HAL of India, produced this year.
For those involved in the manufac-
ture of tools for composites, Worcester
based Intermet Alloys supplies Invar
plate, casting and forgings.
Wolverhampton’s Inbis Ltd, an engi-
neering consultancy, provides bespoke
solutions for individual process
Greatest fans: Rolls-Royce engineers prepare the Trent 1000 for test run.
demands. Its i-Thermal team uses
Gorix’s UK-developed electro-conduc-
tive textile to heat difficult shaped com- Trent 1000 runs The engine has 15 per cent lower fuel
burn than those of a decade ago, while its
posite components for bonding.
Birmingham-based Tufnol on schedule emissions are 40 per cent lower than
required by current international legislation.
Composites has launched a new INITIAL testing of the Trent 1000 engine is I Meanwhile, China Southern Airlines has
epoxy glass fabric laminate for use as proceeding smoothly after Rolls-Royce suc- selected Rolls-Royce Trent 700 engines to
hard points in composite panels. The cessfully completed the engine’s first test power 10 additional Airbus A330s. The con-
laminate was developed in conjunction bed run on Valentine’s Day. tract, which includes a 10-year TotalCare
with Airbus UK. The engine, being developed for the support package, is around £350 million.
Delcam of Birmingham builds Boeing 787 Dreamliner, ran to schedule
CAD/CAM systems to design compos-
ite structures and components. Its
against the date set almost three years earli-
er. It is the first of seven engines that will be KM software in
modelling tools were used to good
effect on the Airbus A380 wing.
used in ground testing, while a further nine
are earmarked for the flight test programme. aerospace test
As launch engine on the Boeing 787, the NEW Knowledge Management (KM) software
Trent 1000 is the first of the aircraft’s power- developed by Coventry-based Network Ltd
Different approach plants to run, and will also be the first in the is to be trialled by at least one major UK
While the principles and cutting tools air when it flies on a Rolls-Royce Boeing 747 aerospace company, and the developer is
required for metal machining are well test bed in the first quarter of 2007. looking for more.
understood, Staffordshire-based spe- Following certification by the airworthiness Already two FTSE top 100 businesses are
cialist Unimerco notes that machining authorities next summer, it will power the 787 testing the easy-to-use Network Menus –
of carbon fibre composites (CFCs) Dreamliner’s first flight and will begin com- developed with the help of a DTI technology
requires a different approach. mercial operations with launch customer grant – to manage their knowledge assets.
The strength and durability of com- ANA (All Nippon Airways) in mid-2008. Network managing director Ryan Butler
posites causes a number of difficulties: The engine started electrically, first time, says the software behaves like an electronic
I Extremely short tool life if ‘metal tool- using a new design feature called IP Power filing cabinet for data on the company’s
ing’ is used. Offtake. This involves dual use starter-gener- servers or on the Internet, but does not dupli-
I High local temperatures during ators which act as both electrical starters on cate data. It enables knowledge to be auto-
machining. the ground, and power generators while air- matically shared, resulting in greater efficien-
I Delaminating during machining. borne to run the increased number of electri- cy, less duplication of effort and better reten-
Unimerco has developed four key cal systems used in the Boeing 787. tion of accumulated knowledge.
technologies for machining CFCs:
I Brazed polycrystalline diamond (PCD).
I Veined PCD.
I Diamond grit.
I Nanocomposite coated carbide.
Each method offers unparalleled tool
life for CFC machining. Face of the future: On-screen view of Network Menus.
aerospace in the midlands
Conekt facility UK to provide ‘free-field’ HIRF testing – the
preferred method of most major aerospace
domestic supply and demand gap.
Andrew Dinsley, head of British Trade
storms ahead manufacturers worldwide, to such high lev-
els and across a broad frequency range.
Office in Bangalore, said huge domestic
growth is forecast in the next 10-15 years. He
A NEW high intensity lightning strike test The development reinforces Conekt’s posi- said opportunities existed across a broad
system has been commissioned at the tion as the UK’s most advanced commercial swathe, from aircraft and component supply
Solihull site of TRW subsidiary Conekt, giv- EMC test facility for aerospace systems. to raw materials, software and training.
ing it the broadest range of lightning test Major Indian industry players HAL and
services in the UK.
The £250,000 investment is part of the Market in India Infotech will be at Farnborough 2006.
company’s development of its aerospace
Centre of Excellence for test and validation for UK expertise Tooling specialist
services. It is expected to be fully opera-
tional by June.
MIDLANDS companies were encouraged
to consider putting their experience and to supply cutters
Chris Tarling, business manager engi- expertise to profitable use in the burgeon- SPECIALIST tooling manufacturer ITC
neering services, Conekt, said the new ing Indian civil aerospace market at a UK Tooling, based in Staffordshire, is providing a
equipment “bridged the gap” between stan- Trade and Investment-sponsored presenta- range of cutters for a Matsuura machining
dards and available test suites, creating a tion hosted by the MAA in Coventry. cell specially designed for high speed
facility capable of meeting DO-160E, Airbus India may be one of the world’s fastest machining (HSM) of aluminium.
and Joint Strike Fighter lightning strike growing economies, said Julian Stretch of The cell, commissioned by Warwickshire
requirements cost-effectively on one site. UKTI, but it is a market in transformation. UK precision engineering firm JJ Churchill for a
The new system will enable testing of companies must understand the market thor- major five-year defence project, produces
product lightning induced transient sus- oughly to operate successfully in it. 17 individual aluminium components that
ceptibility (indirect effects) including multi- Arunukar Mishra of consultants Genser combine to make one complete assembly.
ple stroke and multiple burst lightning tests offered three key messages about doing The extensive component variation sees
and will complement the state-of-the-art business in India: the Matsuura cell utilise all stations on a
facilities already established. I Strategic alliances combining UK inven- 120 tool carousel.
A further £400,000 investment has been tiveness with India’s knowledge pool and All the solid carbide tooling on the
in an EMC High Intensity Radiated Field low cost platform provide the best option for carousel is provided by ITC with more than
(HIRF) test system to meet the increasingly selling into the global aerospace market. 40 standard, modified or special cutters to
stringent regulations governing exposure I India needs foreign help over the next produce the numerous components.
of aircraft electronic devices to high field 10 years to meet demands for low batch pre- Production engineering manager Jason
strengths external to the aircraft. cision engineering and assembly. Neville of JJ Churchill said confidence in the
With this investment, Conekt’s test and I Immediate opportunities exist for MRO tooling has enabled the company to run the
validation facility will become the first in the and infrastructure providers to fill India’s machining cell unmanned 24 hours a day.
Vulcan project sees XH558
waits in the
blue skies ahead hangar (left)
THE Avro Vulcan is on course to return to the skies plan the
for the first time in 13 years thanks to the dedica- rebuild.
tion of enthusiasts and the work of Midlands aero-
space and engineering companies.
The last flying example, XH558, flew into
Bruntingthorpe, Leicestershire in 1993, where it
was stripped down by the RAF in anticipation of a complete Vulcan ready for its
overhaul and rebuild. first flight later this
Tireless campaigning by the Vulcan to the Sky Trust led in year. Plans are in
2005 to their purchase of XH558. A team of 22 technicians has place to return the
been retained to put the Cold War bomber back together with popular delta-wing
parts from many of their original manufacturers. bomber to the public display circuit in 2007.
In workshops across the Midlands, companies and their staff The enthusiasm generated by this unique engineering project
have been donating time and expertise to rebuild, repair or has been recognised by the Vulcan Operating Company whose
replicate out-of-production parts. spokesman acknowledged the vital support from MAA mem-
At Bruntingthorpe, work is under way reassembling the bers, “without which the project would not be viable.”
Midlands aerospace in brief… DIARY
11 April 2006 (Session 1)
Northamptonshire-based Arcotronics sophisticated laminated aerospace parts 23 May 2006 (Session 2)
Lean manufacturing: a new perspective
Ltd, Europe’s largest producer of wet known as shims. UNIEIlab, Nottingham Science &
tantalum capacitors, has received MIL- Meanwhile, Hampson has landed Technology Park
PRF-39006C approval for its tubular TH additional work worth an initial £40 mil- An East Midlands Quality Club event
designed to introduce the fusion between
range. This achievement is expected to lion with pioneering American corpora-
Lean and Constraint Management.
open the door to the American military tion Eclipse Aviation. Hampson will sup-
and aerospace market. ply composite aero structural compo- 4 May 2006
nents and assemblies for the very light MAA Technology Launch Event
C&H Precision Finishers of jet (VLJ) Eclipse 500.
Nottingham has signed a three-year 8 May 2006
agreement with Rolls-Royce covering Expansion of its aerospace business is SBAC/MAA Aerospace Environmental
precision polishing of turbine and on the cards for Micrometric of Roadshow
compressor blades and vanes for a Lincolnshire. The laser cutting, welding
variety of Rolls-Royce aero engines. and marking specialist has received AS 15-19 May 2006
C&H is a subsidiary of Nottingham’s EN9100 and NADCAP approvals, as MACH2006
Avingtrans plc. stipulated by the Boeing, Rolls-Royce NEC, Birmingham
UK Trade & Investment and MTA Organised
and Airbus among others, reinforcing its
Inward Missions are bringing overseas buy-
Leicestershire-based LK Group has position as a subcontractor to tier one ers to introduce UK companies to potential
been acquired by the Belgian company suppliers. buyers/partners from different markets.
Metris International Holding, a global
17 May 2006
leader in inspection systems for the Rolls-Royce was one of three winners MAA Masterclass - Legal
aerospace sector. LK is a world of the first UK Cathay Pacific Awards Bretby Conference Centre,
renowned manufacturer of coordinate which recognise UK business dynamism Burton on Trent
measurement machines. and success in Hong Kong and China.
16-21 May 2006
The judges cited the company’s long Aircraft Interiors Expo
Hampson Industries has made two commitment to the area and its leading Hamburg, Germany
acquisitions to expand its presence in role in aviation training there.
21 June 2006
the American market. It has also
MAA Members' Meeting
expanded capacity at its aerospace Finnair has become the first airline to Oaktree Conference Centre, Coventry
machining facility in Birmingham. The select the Rolls-Royce Trent 1700
Midlands-based aerospace and engine for its fleet of nine firm, plus four 17-23 July 2006
precision engineering group acquired option, Airbus A350-900s. Deliveries are
Coast Composites, which makes set to begin in 2012. Final configuration
precision tooling systems to produce big of the engine is scheduled for the end of 17-20 October 2006
composite structures for aerospace, 2007. Manufacturing starts in 2008 AIRTEC
Exhibition Centre Frankfurt, Germany
defence and satellite communications, leading to first ground testing in 2009
The first global supply fair concentrating on
and Lamsco West, which specialises in and first flight on the A350 in 2010. the entire aerospace industry supply chain.
About the MAA… Contact the MAA
The Midlands Aerospace Alliance
(MAA) is the voice of companies If you have a query or suggestion
in the British Midlands supplying that you wish to make, please
Written, designed and produced for the MAA by Trident Communications www.tridentcommunications.net (B4689)
global aerospace. It was set up in
2002 to improve wealth creation contact the MAA by any of the
and employment for companies means below:
and people involved in the aero-
space industry across the
Midlands. The MAA is supported T: +44 (0) 845 225 0503
by Advantage West Midlands F: +44 (0) 845 225 0504
(AWM) and the East Midlands E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Development Agency (emda).
For additional copies of AIM, or to add your clients to the distribution database,
please contact Grace Sheppard at the MAA Secretariat.