Airbus Helicopters UK is partnering with the High Value Manufacturing Catapult (HVMC) to explore future opportunities to work together.
Led by Katherine Bennett – formerly head of Airbus group’s UK operation – the HVMC consists of a network of seven centres spread across the country with a mission to accelerate manufacturing innovation.
Covered by a memorandum of understanding, the co-operation agreement will see the two parties “establish a framework under which they will jointly investigate opportunities to work together”.
“Our collaboration with the High Value Manufacturing Catapult will help to foster technological advancements, accelerate the development of cutting-edge manufacturing processes, and enhance the competitiveness of the UK helicopter industry,” says Lenny Brown, managing director of Airbus Helicopters UK.
Airbus Helicopters does not build helicopters in the UK at present, with its manufacturing sites and final assembly lines located in France, Germany and Spain.
However, it is planning to create a final assembly line for the H175M at the group’s Broughton site in North Wales should the super-medium-twin be selected for the UK’s New Medium Helicopter requirement.
Under the terms of the agreement, the pair will prioritise three areas: research and development, supply chain optimisation, and skills development.
Initiatives outlined in the first category include research into ballistic protection with the National Composites Centre (NCC) in Bristol, an electrification project on high-power batteries with WMG in Coventry, and blade innovation research with the NCC for Airbus’s ZEROe hydrogen aircraft programme.
And through the supply chain thread, the agreement foresees “a contribution by HVM Catapult into a future Airbus Helicopters Rotary Wing Rapid Capability & Development Centre”.