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The University of Southampton

Southampton to play key role in strengthening UK aerospace sector

Published: 19 July 2018
Aircraft engine
Southampton will step up engagement with the global aerospace community through a new UK consortium.

The University of Southampton is joining with a number of other leading aerospace universities in the UK as part of a national consortium to provide the global aerospace community with a centralised point of engagement to the UK’s top university aerospace research capabilities.

The National Aerospace Research Consortium (NARC) embraces the full aviation spectrum (airlines, aircraft, airspace and airports). Through the combination of networked national facilities, integrated learning of the highest quality and a central point of access, NARC is aiming to make a significant contribution to the UK’s presence within the aerospace sector.

NARC will align itself with the Aerospace Technology Institute’s established four technology pillars (Aircraft of the Future; Future Propulsion; Smart, Connected and Electric Aircraft of the Future; and Aero Structures of the Future) with an additional National Airborne Test stream.

The Consortium aims to create a UK-wide infrastructure of accessible, integrated and world-class research facilities to support each pillar. The universities that currently make up NARC have already started work on the Future Propulsion pillar with a collaborative proposal for a network of advanced electric and hybrid-electric propulsion development facilities.

NARC will also seek to enhance the flow of highly qualified aerospace engineers of the future through closer integration of graduate and postgraduate learning provision.

Southampton is a world-leading aerospace university, recognised internationally for its research, education and collaborative industry support. With an extensive network of staff across the University conducting aerospace research, Southampton has tremendous breadth. More than 150 international businesses have chosen the University as a key partner for their research and development. Southampton is currently collaborating with over 290 partners in 27 European countries and continually growing its aerospace research portfolio.

Professor Mark Spearing, Southampton's Vice-President (Research and Enterprise), said: “Southampton enthusiastically welcomes the formation of the National Aerospace Research Consortium. In an increasingly internationally competitive sector, it is vital that UK-based industry has access to world-leading research in order to strengthen its competitive advantage. The universities represented in the consortium already work collaboratively on many aerospace research projects, and NARC will help formalise this situation as well as providing greater external visibility and better access to industrial stakeholders.”

Joining the Southampton as founding member universities of NARC are: University of Bristol; University of Cambridge; Cranfield University; Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine; University of Manchester; University of Nottingham; Queens University, Belfast; University of Sheffield; and the University of Strathclyde.

Professor Iain Gray, Director of Aerospace at Cranfield University, who is acting as co-ordinator for NARC, said: “The National Aerospace Research Consortium (NARC), consisting of the UK’s leading aerospace universities, will aim to directly support UK-based industry through the provision of accessible world-class research facilities, future skills development and centralised research co-ordination. We aim to put NARC in the same league as other international entities, such as NASA, ONERA or NRC, and support the UK as a global leader in future aerospace research.”

Dr Simon Weeks, Chief Technology Officer of the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), said: “At the ATI, we welcome a strong and co-ordinated university research base that is able to support the aerospace sector and further develop the UK’s international reputation for high quality research. The NARC initiative, led by a number of the UK’s leading aerospace universities, represents a significant step forward in creating a national entity that can co-ordinate and promote the excellent work undertaken by our leading academic teams.”


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