GKN teams up with Airbus on Clean Sky research

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UK aerospace firm GKN has teamed up with Airbus to participate in two elements of the European Union's Clean Sky research programme.

GKN will work with Airbus to develop part of a natural laminar flow (NLF) wing, which will be used in Clean Sky's planned SMART Fixed Wing Integrated Technology Demonstrator (ITD).

The SMART Fixed Wing ITD is one of six ITDs taking place under the EU's €1.6 billion ($2.2 billion), seven-year Clean Sky public-private research effort, which is geared towards developing technologies that will reduce the impact of aviation on the environment.

GKN's role is to provide advanced mechanical bonding, post assembly finishing and coating solutions for the leading edge of the NLF wing. The wing as a whole can result in fuel savings of 3-4%. A ground technology demonstrator of the wing is scheduled to take place in mid-2011.

GKN has also teamed up with Airbus on Clean Sky's Systems for Green Operations ITD, which focuses on developing electrical equipment that enables aircraft to perform more environmentally-friendly trajectories. GKN will design and build an icing tunnel test demonstrator as part of an overall lightweight carbon fibre ram air scoop which includes ice protection and acoustic abatement.

Design and construction is expected to be completed by January with testing scheduled for the middle of next year.

GKN chief executive Marcus Bryson says the company aims to increase its involvement in the Clean Sky programme "wherever we can make an effective contribution".

Clean Sky has come under pressure in the past for the high levels of bureaucracy associated with applying for research contracts. However, the initiative's co-ordinating project officer, Giuseppe Pagnano, insists that all issues pertaining to excessive red tape have now been "completely overcome".