Airbus Helicopters in the UK and HVM Catapult announce strategic partnership

24 July 2023

Airbus Helicopters in the UK has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the High Value Manufacturing (HVM) Catapult, the UK’s leading group of research, development and innovation centres.

This strategic partnership, which saw the official MoU signing take place at the AMRC Cymru facility, part of the University of Sheffield innovation cluster, will see both organisations establish a framework under which they will jointly investigate opportunities to work together on future opportunities.

Katherine Bennett, CEO of HVM Catapult added: “We are thrilled to join forces with Airbus Helicopters in the UK in this exciting partnership. The collaboration will enable us to leverage our capabilities in manufacturing research and development across our seven centres to enhance the competitiveness of the helicopter sector.

"Together, and with support from Innovate UK, we will push the boundaries of what is possible and shape the future of helicopter manufacturing in the UK."

Lenny Brown, managing director of Airbus Helicopters in the UK, said: “This agreement marks a significant milestone in the advancement of helicopter manufacturing across the UK and underscores the commitment of both organisations to drive innovation and promote the growth of the UK's high-value manufacturing sector.

"Our collaboration with the High Value Manufacturing Catapult will help to foster technological advancements, accelerate the development of cutting-edge manufacturing processes, and enhance the competitiveness of the UK helicopter industry. By combining our expertise, resources, and knowledge, we will push the boundaries of manufacturing excellence and bring forth new capabilities in the helicopter sector.”

Under the terms of the agreement, both organisations will prioritise three key areas:

  • Research and Development: such as sustainable aviation fuel, ballistic protection, digital twin and sustainable building projects at the National Composites Centre (NCC) in Bristol, University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) Cymru in Broughton, and CERT in Sheffield; an electrification project on high power batteries with WMG in Coventry; and a ZeroE blade innovation project with the NCC.
  • Supply chain optimisation: including smart factory studies and virtual design pilot work with AMRC Cymru; rapid prototyping and 3D printing capabilities with the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC); and a contribution by HVM Catapult into a future Airbus Helicopters Rotary Wing Rapid Capability & Development Centre.
  • Skills development: encompassing programmes aimed at fostering talent, providing training opportunities, and upskilling the existing workforce to help ensure a sustainable pipeline of individuals who can drive innovation in the helicopters sector.

Based at Oxford Airport, Airbus Helicopters in the UK provides the entire UK police helicopter fleet; two-thirds of the country’s air ambulance fleet and most of its overall civil helicopter fleet.

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