Lift-off for innovative helicopter technology research

28 Jul 2008

£8.8M Innovative helicopter rotor blade research and development project launched.

Part of the Technology Strategy Board's collaborative research and development programme, REACT will ensure UK maintains world-class capability in rotor blade technology.

A major £8.8m helicopter technology research and development programme led by Agusta Westland and supported by the Technology Strategy Board was launched today by the Science and Innovation Minister, Ian Pearson MP.

The REACT - Rotor Embedded Actuator Control Technology - project will see Agusta Westland collaborating with Bristol, Leicester and Liverpool universities, and will receive investment of £4.4m from the Technology Strategy Board. 

The 3-year project involves the development of active surfaces in helicopter rotor blades, and active hydraulic systems in rotor controls.  Such active systems continuously vary the aerodynamics of the rotors to provide optimal performance.  Full-scale laboratory validation of the technology will be produced, while the project will also investigate and develop the manufacturing methods that will be needed to produce the innovative technology in volume.

REACT will help to strengthen the UK's world-class capability in rotorcraft technology and demonstrates leading-edge, high-value manufacturing technology.  Representing a significant collaboration between industry, academia and government, the project will help to respond to the increased demand for improved environmental performance of rotorcraft.

Launching the project at AgustaWestland's Yeovil facility, Science and Innovation Minister Ian Pearson said: "I am very pleased that the DIUS-sponsored Technology Strategy Board is providing the public sector support for the REACT project, ensuring that much of this crucial research and development is UK-led.  REACT is a great example of industry, academia and government working together to help sustain and take forward high value manufacturing in the UK."

Commenting on the decision to invest in the REACT project, the Technology Strategy Board's Director of Innovation Programmes, David Bott, said: "The Technology Strategy Board's role is to ensure that the UK is in the forefront of technology-enabled innovation.   This project takes a strong understanding of the factors affecting the performance of rotor blades and combines it with the latest manufacturing methods to produce really exciting technology.  We are therefore delighted to offer our support and investment." 

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Last updated on Monday 28 July 2008 at 16:32

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