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24 Nov 11. GKN Aerospace celebrates the opening of the UK’s National Composites Centre. GKN Aerospace has joined industry partners Airbus, AgustaWestland, Rolls-Royce, Umeco and Vestas in celebrating the official opening of the UK’s National Composites Centre (NCC) today. The 8500m2 NCC facility is situated close to three of GKN Aerospace’s major composite manufacturing operations serving the global aerospace sector – at Filton and Western Approach in Bristol, and Cowes on the Isle of Wight. GKN Aerospace has already based a 15 member composites research team at the NCC. These engineers are working on research programmes such as the CleanSky initiative, developing new composite technologies to extend the performance and lower the emissions of future aircraft.
GKN Aerospace has been an important force internationally in driving forward the use of composites in aviation and is expanding the application of new automated manufacturing techniques that will enable faster and more consistent manufacture of complex composite structures. These techniques will be critical if the industry is to meet rising future worldwide market demand for new aircraft – and for aircraft that offer improved performance, lower emissions and lower maintenance requirements. A number of new GKN Aerospace-developed automated manufacturing technologies are already in use for the first time at the company’s Western Approach facility where wing structures are being manufactured for the Airbus A350XWB. The company is the leading independent supplier of composite structures to the global aerospace sector supporting UK-based companies such as Airbus and Boeing as well as a wide range of international customers. Created by the South West RDA, Bristol University and the industrial partners, with funding from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (GBP 12m), the South West RDA (Regional Development Agency) (GBP 4m) and GBP 9m from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the NCC is a purpose-built facility with workshop space, open-plan offices, meeting rooms and teaching facilities. It is an independent, open-access national centre delivering world-class innovation in the design and rapid manufacture of composites and enabling widespread industrial exploitation. The NCC has the latest, state-of-the-art machinery, including a world-leading GBP 2.5m automatic fibre placement robotic system – and as importantly, the people with the skills and experience to make best use of these capabilities.

23 Nov 11. GKN Aerospace announced the company’s intention to establish a new aerospace components assembly facility in Orangeburg, South Carolina, USA. The new GKN Aerospace facility will perform assembly operations for the recently-awarded production contract for the HondaJet, (announced 11/14/11) the development work for which is currently performed at the company’s Alabama facility. This work will involve assembly of the state of the art all-composite fuselage for Honda’s new HondaJet light business jet – work which is scheduled to begin at the Orangeburg site in mid-2012. Design and equipping of the new 150,000 sq ft. plant will begin shortly and is scheduled to be operational by the 2nd half of 2012. Recruitment of the first new staff will begin in spring, 2012. GKN Aerospace expects over 75 personnel to be working in the new facility within the first year of production, with employment rising to approximately 300 within the next 5 years. The company aims to recruit the majority of these personnel from the local region.

MARITIME

22 Nov 11. Eighteen months after construction began, the Gowind offshore patrol vessel L’Adroit, an innovative maritime safety and security platform, has left DCNS’s Lorient shipyard, where it was built, on a course for France’s Toulon naval base, its home port. Built under a DCNS-funded programme, L’Adroit incorporates a number of major innovations. DCNS has made the vessel available to the French Na

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