May 28, 2008 - GKN Aerospace announced today that it has established a joint venture company with Rolls-Royce to carry out research and development into the use of composite materials in aero engine fan blades.
As part of its continuous drive to bring innovative products to market, Rolls-Royce is researching key technologies and alternative materials to further enhance the efficiency and environmental performance of its products.
Funding for the research and development is expected to be approximately ?11 million. Rolls-Royce will fund and own 51 per cent of the venture, with GKN Aerospace responsible for 49 per cent.
The joint venture activities will build upon the development of composite blade applications undertaken during the EU-funded VITAL programme, and will combine the expertise of Rolls-Royce advanced engine technologies with GKN Aerospace's composite research and automated manufacturing technologies.
Rolls-Royce Director - Research and Technology Ric Parker said: "Rolls-Royce has been working closely with GKN Aerospace on the latest carbon-composite technologies for some time and we look forward to building on this relationship with the formation of the joint venture. The composite technology research that this organisation will undertake is aimed at delivering light-weight and low-cost fan blades for engines for the next generation of airframe applications."
GKN Aerospace Chief Executive Officer Marcus Bryson said: "We have long been a pioneer and driving force in the application of lightweight, high-performance composites to the airframe and it is one of our strategic goals to bring the benefits of composite materials to propulsion systems. This JV represents a critical step towards achieving that goal. Through our partnership with Rolls-Royce, we will achieve a genuine advance in propulsion system technology that will move us towards a lighter, more environmentally efficient aero-engine."
GKN Aerospace is the aerospace operation of GKN plc (LSE:GKN), one of the world's largest engineering companies. GKN Aerospace serves a global customer base with some 8500 personnel operating in North and South America, Australia, the Asia Pacific and Europe and offering 24 hour 'follow the sun' engineering. With sales of ?1bn ($2bn), the business is focused around three major product areas - aerostructures, propulsion systems and transparencies, plus a number of specialist product areas - electro-thermal ice protection, fuel and flotation systems, and bullet resistant glass. The business is equally split along military and civil lines with participation on all major aircraft programmes today exceeding $1m per ship set. GKN Aerospace is a major supplier of complex composite structures; offers one of the most comprehensive capabilities in high performance metallics processing and is the world leading supplier of cockpit transparencies and passenger cabin windows.
The ELF programme is being undertaken by GKN Aerospace and Rolls-Royce and is aimed at bringing new engine fan blade technologies; the plant will be based on the Isle of Wight, UK.
Expected to be fully operational by 1st April 2011, it will be an independent open-access national center delivering world-class innovation in the design and rapid manufacture of composites.
GKN Aerospace researchers are working with a team at the University of Bristol in the UK on an 18-month program to explore advanced coatings chemistries that will accurately indicate the existence and...
Its composite structure expertise is also now being brought to bear on the aero-engine, with one example being the composite engine fan blade joint venture activity with Rolls-Royce.