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AgustaWestland launches new R&D programme supported by £10m government grant

It was announced today that the Government has awarded AgustaWestland, a Finmeccanica company, a total of £10 million in research and development grants that will be delivered through the Technology Strategy Board. The funding will go towards a new programme consisting of three R&D projects. The programme will ensure that the UK maintains its leading position for research, design and development in the fast growing civil helicopter sector. The Next Generation Vertical Lift programme will encompass three R&D projects focusing on main and tail rotor blades, transmission systems and flight trials.

The novel and innovative technologies to be researched, developed and delivered as part of the programme include soft beam main rotor blades, innovative blade damper technology, fit and forget gearboxes, real time rotor blade health monitoring and greener more sustainable helicopter transmission systems. Luciano Marcocci, Chief Technical Officer, AgustaWestland said "This project will enable AgustaWestland retains its position at the forefront of rotorcraft technology, helping to secure high value manufacturing jobs in the UK. As we enter challenging times it is vital that AgustaWestland retains its key technological skills so that we can succeed in future markets."

AgustaWestland will collaborate with SMEs including Shearline Ltd and with the Universities of Bristol and Liverpool who will lead on specific Research and Development (R&D) activities, further strengthening AgustaWestland's links with SMEs and key academic research establishments in the UK. This programme of work will also strengthen AgustaWestland's engagement with other leading manufacturers as a Tier 1 partner in the recently formed National Composites Centre (NCC) in Bristol, which has been selected to become part of the new High Value Manufacturing Technology Innovation Centre, delivered by the Technology Strategy Board, These facilities are vital for keeping UK manufacturing at the cutting edge of technology today and in future.

Press release issued by Leonardo-Finmeccanica Helicopters on July 22, 2011


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