Senior minister hails Cranfield’s work on electric flights project

Aug 13, 2019

Michael Matheson MSP (left) is pictured with Dr Tim Mackley, head of the Aerospace Research Integration Centre at Cranfield University.

AEROSPACE experts at Cranfield University are working on a project to develop the world’s first electric-powered passenger flights.

They are collaborating with Scottish airline Logan Air on Project Fresson, which aims to develop electric-powered island hopping flights between Orkney and Kirkwall.

And their work has attracted the interest of Michael Matheson, Scotland’s Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity Secretary, who has visited Cranfield on a fact-finding mission to learn more about the latest technological developments in sustainable aerospace and aviation.

He heard from Cranfield Aerospace Solutions, a wholly owned subsidiary of the university, about its work on Project Fresson and toured Cranfield’s aerospace and aviation facilities including the Digital Air Traffic Control Centre, the first to be operational in the UK, and the Aerospace Integration Research Centre, a £35 million partnership between the university, Rolls-Royce, Airbus and the UK government.

The MSP described his visit as “fascinating”.

Mr Matheson also heard about the developing Digital Aviation Research Technology Centre and the Urban Observatory. DARTEC is a £67 million partnership between the university and major industry partners such as Aveillant, Boxarr, Saab and Thales, with support from Research England, that will spearhead the UK’s research into digital aviation.

The Urban Observatory allows researchers at Cranfield, through a sensor network, to monitor environmental impact and suggest mitigation strategies at Cranfield Airport.

Professor Iain Gray, director of aerospace at Cranfield, said: “I was delighted to show the Transport Secretary around Cranfield’s global research airport with its unique facilities. We are already seeing Scotland embracing sustainable aviation through developments such as Project Fresson and it was a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate to Mr Matheson what more could be achieved through technological developments.”     

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