North West Aerospace Alliance ready to move into Central Lancashire headquarters

The UK's North West Aerospace Alliance (NWAA) hopes to have its Aerospace Innovation Centre (AIC) fully operational by October.

NWAA chairman Dennis Mendoros says the blueprint for the AIC project could eventually be repeated elsewhere in the UK, adding: "We do not see it as unique to the north-west."

The AIC, already operating in its initial phase, aims to showcase four new technologies – smart asset tracking, collaborative engineering, laser deposition and laser peening – at the Paris air show.

The NWAA expected to receive funding for the second phase of the project in May, but the process has taken longer than expected. It now expects to be awarded the AIC contract by "October or November at the latest", says Mendoros. The AIC's board and key staff have already been chosen.

The North West Development Agency (NWDA) is providing funding of £20-30 million ($36.5-54.7 million) for the first five years of the project, but Mendoros says it is impossible to estimate the level of funding that will be required after that.

The NWAA plans to customise an existing centre at the University of Central Lancashire to include headquarters as well as technology demonstration and conference facilities to form a "physical core" for the AIC. After the first two years of its operation, a decision will be taken on whether it should be moved, and if so, to where. The project will involve other "satellite activities" as it seeks to engage universities and large companies in developing new technologies with commercial applications.

The Society of British Aerospace Companies (SBAC) says one of the UK Aerospace Innovation and Growth Team's (AeIGT) key recommendations is a greater focus on aerospace research and development and innovation. The SBAC, NWAA and other regional bodies are seeking to engage with regional development authorities and encourage them to allocate resources to supporting aerospace research and development.

AeIGT was set up by the UK department of trade and industry in 2002. It comprises representatives of industry, government and academia and aims to ensure the competitiveness of UK aerospace over the next 20 years.


Source: Flight International