Under the Dutch “Luchgtvaart in Transitie” consortium, GKN Aerospace will lead two ground-breaking collaborative research and development (R&D) programs focused on electrification and thermoplastics to support development of sustainable aviation technologies. The Dutch Growth fund has awarded €112 million for the two multi-year programs, from a total of €383 million funding for the consortium, to be matched by industry investment.
The electrification R&D program will explore and develop advanced high-voltage/high-power wiring and distribution systems required for electrical aircraft and hydrogen fuel cell systems—of lower weight and volume than today’s equivalent electrification hardware. The project will also cover the development of cost-efficient design and assembly automation technologies.
The research on thermoplastic composites—materials at least 10 percent lighter than traditional aircraft structural components—centers on "lightweighting" technologies that will lead to lower-weight airframe structures. GKN will also explore new materials and processes for scalable high-volume production of sustainable components.
John Pritchard, GKN Aerospace president for civil airframes, called advances in electrification and thermoplastics “a critical stepping stone for the aerospace industry and its move to more energy-efficient aircraft.”
Some 100 specialized engineers and operators from consortium members including the Royal Netherlands Aerospace Centre, Technical University of Delft, Lucht en Ruimtevaart Nederland, and the Netherlands Aerospace Group will work together on the two programs, based at GKN Aerospace’s centers of excellence in Hoogeveen, Papendrecht, and Hoogerheide.