12 Jul 2017

Cranfield University to host new aviation research centre

A new £65M aviation research centre is to be constructed at Cranfield University.

Designed to spearhead UK research in digital aviation technology, the new DARTeC (Digital Aviation Research and Technology Centre) will provide research facilities unprecedented in Europe.

Researchers at the centre will address new challenges facing the aviation industry, such as:

  • the integration of drones into civilian airspace
  • increasing the efficiency of airports through technological advances
  • creating safe, secure shared airspace through secure data communication infrastructures
  • increasing the reliability and availability of aircraft through self-sensing, self-aware technologies

With game-changing technologies such as a virtual air traffic control tower and next-generation radar technologies located at the University’s licensed airport, a new Civil Aviation Authority-approval route will be created, giving increased efficiency, flexibility and capacity.

Together with £15.5M of funding from the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund (UKRPIF), monies for the development are being provided by a consortium of leading aerospace and aviation companies, including Thales, Raytheon, SAAB, Monarch Aircraft Engineering Limited, Boeing UK and Aveillant – as well as Cranfield University itself.

Professor Sir Peter Gregson, Chief Executive and Vice-Chancellor of Cranfield University, said: “This is a fantastic example of business, academia and Government coming together to create world-leading research facilities. Together with the Aerospace Integration Research Centre and the University’s own airport, the construction of DARTeC will see Cranfield offering the leading aerospace and aviation research facilities in Europe. 

“The research at Cranfield will develop solutions for the aviation sector in the 21st century through collaboration between universities, business, government and regulatory authorities.”

Principal Investigator for DARTeC and Director of Transport Systems, Professor Graham Braithwaite, said: “The Digital Aviation and Research Technology Centre will greatly advance the application of new innovative technology within the air transport sector. Here at Cranfield, we are shaping the future of airports, aircraft, airspace and airlines, through the power of our research capabilities. The implementation of new novel technologies has the capacity to transform the way air transport operates, bringing greater efficiency and heightened safety.” 

Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson said: “The UK’s world-renowned leadership in science, research and innovation is helping to solve a range of national and global challenges, and the breadth of the projects funded today means this will continue. 

“Through our Industrial Strategy and £4.7 billion investment for research and development, we’re ensuring we capitalise on the great work taking place in universities across the UK and remain at the forefront of innovation.”  

This is one of nine projects announced as part of the current round of UKRPIF funding. David Sweeney, HEFCE’s Director of Research, Education and Knowledge Exchange and Chief Executive Designate of Research England, said: “I am delighted that we are able to support these nine projects that will deliver high class facilities and world leading research, enabling UK universities to continue to tackle major national and global challenges, and make a significant contribution to economic growth.”

Watch a video of the proposed development here.


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