A new national consortium of leading universities will help drive progress in the aerospace sector, it is claimed.
The National Aerospace Research Consortium (NARC) aims to create a UK-wide infrastructure of accessible, integrated research facilities to support progress in four key areas: aircraft of the future, propulsion, smart, connected and electric aircraft, and aero structures.
NARC will also seek to enhance the number of highly qualified aerospace engineers in the job market by building closer links between graduate and postgraduate learning provision.
The founding members of NARC are the universities of Bristol, Cambridge, Manchester, Nottingham, Sheffield, Southampton and Strathclyde, plus Cranfield University, Imperial College London and Queen’s University Belfast.
NARC co-ordinator Professor Iain Gray, who is also director of aerospace at Cranfield, said the consortium would aim to be in the same league as other international entities such as NASA. “It 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,” he added.
For universities, the project offers researchers a chance to work closely with their peers. Professor Brian Falzon, head of the school of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Queen's University Belfast, said: "Being part of NARC will translate to enhanced research opportunities for Queen’s, building on and extending our current research activities in advanced aerostuctures, future materials, propulsion and simulation technologies.
"By working in partnership with members of NARC, we will create a synergistic critical mass of research activity in these areas, which I am confident will lead to new breakthroughs for the benefit of the global aerospace community.”
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