UK team wins engineering award for wing that cuts aircraft CO2 emissions

Technology allows planes to fly further with less fuel, reducing carbon and nitrogen dioxide emissions

Ben Chapman
Friday 12 July 2019 08:30
Comments
Bombardier’s composite wings were first used in 2013 and are made using a process called resin transfer infusion
Bombardier’s composite wings were first used in 2013 and are made using a process called resin transfer infusion

A Belfast-based team behind an innovative aircraft wing that cuts the emissions of commercial airliners has won a prestigious engineering award, in a much-needed boost for an industry wracked by uncertainty over Brexit and Donald Trump’s tariffs.

The Northern Irish subsidiary of Canadian plane maker Bombardier faced closure in 2017 when the US president threatened to impose punitive 292 per cent tariffs on its C-series aircraft.

But on Thursday the company won the MacRobert Award for its carbon composite wing, which is 10 per cent lighter than metal alternatives.

Bombardier’s composite wings were first used in 2013 and are made using a process called resin transfer infusion (RTI) which uses fewer materials and energy than other techniques for making carbon composite wings.

The technology also allows planes to fly further with less fuel, reducing carbon and nitrogen dioxide emissions. Commercial aviation is expanding rapidly and improvements in the fuel efficiency of passenger jets are seen as crucial in the battle against climate change.

The new technique is the result of a £520m investment in Bombardier’s aircraft wing programme – the largest ever single inward investment in Northern Ireland.

The company says around 200 suppliers across the UK are directly involved with the programme alongside many others throughout the supply chain.

European aerospace giant Airbus, which uses the wings in its aircraft, has warned that its supply chains face huge disruption from Brexit.

Guillaume Faury, the firm’s chief executive, said in May that Airbus “wants to remain in the UK” after the country leaves the trading bloc, but his predecessor Tom Enders warned in January that a disorderly Brexit could force the company to take “very harmful decisions”.

Dr Dame Sue Ion, chair of the Royal Academy of Engineering’s judging panel, praised Bombardier for its innovation.

“Bombardier’s composite wing reflects how excellence in aeronautical engineering benefits both society and the environment,” she said.

“At a time of uncertainty for Belfast’s engineering community, we hope this award helps them achieve the worldwide recognition they deserve.”

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in