The Advanced Composites Research Group at Queen’s University Belfast is offering a number of exciting PhD projects as part of a strategic collaborative partnership with Spirit AeroSystems.

These studentships are available to UK nationals only. A list of projects, and information on how to apply, may be found here .

For further information, please contact Prof Brian G. Falzon (

The University of Southampton has worked with Royal Mail on a trial of fully autonomous scheduled drone flights. The trial will see the Company use Uncrewed Aerial Vehicle (UAV) flights to deliver Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), COVID testing kits and other mail to the Isles of Scilly.

The Government-funded project, which has been developed in partnership with DronePrep, Skyports, Consortiq Limited, Excalibur Healthcare Services and Windracers Limited, will initially have a particular focus on helping to fight the pandemic by delivering crucial PPE and testing kits to the islands’ most vulnerable and remote communities.

Mail will be flown to the islands’ airport in St. Mary’s by the twin-engine Windracers ULTRA which was designed and built by engineers at the University of Southampton, led by Professor Jim Scanlan. The ULTRA can carry up to 100kg worth of mail at a time – equivalent to a typical delivery round.


For full report

royal mail deliveries by drone trial | University of Southampton


CFD is an important enabler for UK aerospace technology development. This ATI survey aims to gather information on the UK CFD effort as a first step in considering our readiness to address future technology and competitiveness challenges. We invite all UK groups active in the development and/or use of CFD methods for aerospace industry applications to participate.
Closing date: 21/05/21

Accelerating The Journey to Zero-Emissions Aviation:

Developing a Commercially Viable Hydrogen Fuel Cell Propulsion System

Wednesday 19th May 2021 12.00pm – 1.00pm BST

With the UK becoming the first major nation to include international aviation in its carbon dioxide emissions targets, and air traffic still expected to reach 10 billion passengers a year by 2050 – a key target date in achieving net zero CO2 emissions for the wider economy – the global commercial aviation sector needs commercially viable technology solutions which can deliver zero carbon emissions. For aircraft, several solutions exist to reduce CO2 emission and pollutant emissions as per terrestrial applications: bio- and synthetic fuels for conventional engines and gas turbines, hybrid electric propulsion systems, battery electric only or hydrogen fuel cells. Hydrogen is not a new technology for transport: it was developed as rocket fuel for the US space programme in the 1950s and is currently used in heavy duty commercial vehicles such as long-haul trucks and buses. What has changed to make it an appealing technology for commercial aviation now? In this free 60 minutes webinar, Cranfield Aerospace Solutions and Ricardo will give their technical insight into Project Fresson which is using hydrogen fuel cell technology to develop a commercially viable, retrofit powertrain solution for the nine-passenger Britten-Norman Islander aircraft. They will also look ahead to the next steps required to prepare what will be the world’s first truly green passenger-carrying airline services. Key topics and takeaways: • Presentation of the state-of-the-art for aircraft propulsion • Why fuel cell development for aircraft • Selecting hydrogen fuel cells • Methodology used to develop multiple stack fuel cell systems, and optimising for aerospace applications • Ricardo’s expert use of model-based development for terrestrial applications • Designing a multiple fuel cell stack system to fulfil the challenging aerospace performance, weight and volume targets

Please register for the free webinar here…

The Department of Aeronautics & Astronautics within the School of Engineering at the University of Southampton is looking to strengthen and expand in the area of digital design, model-based engineering and model-based systems engineering with focus on new systems and processes required for lifecycle design and the tools required to achieve this.

The Design and Manufacturing Research Team at Queen’s University Belfast, in partnership with York and Loughborough Universities, has been successful in winning a large-scale Programme Grant from the EPSRC.

‘Re-Imagining Engineering Design’ (RIED) is a £11.5m (with £7.3M from EPSRC) research programme supported by Rolls-Royce, Airbus and NI companies Glen Dimplex, Bombardier, JW Kane and Denroy.

40 researchers will work on this over 5 years showing some world leading work in the UK in engineering design

The success in winning this grant offers up the idea of further opportunity and potential for collaboration within the UK Aerospace Research Consortium, and the team is welcoming any potential opportunities for partnership on appropriate challenges.


On 20th April, the UK government announced that it is setting “the world’s most ambitious climate change target into law to reduce emissions by 78% by 2035 compared to 1990 levels”. Crucially for aviation, the UK’s share of international aviation emissions is to be incorporated in this drive towards net zero emissions.

Details of the government’s announcement can be found here. As pressure is ramped up – an emissions reduction of 78% by 2035 compared to 1990 levels – the aviation industry will be forced to accelerate innovation in technology, fuels and operations. As a crucible of research feeding this innovation chain, UK-ARC and its universities are focused upon initiating step-change research to assist the industry. Climate change is the largest driver of UK-ARC research ambitions and its support for the government’s Jet Zero Council, the Aerospace Technology Institute and the FlyZero goal to deliver a zero-emission aircraft within a decade. Many UK-ARC universities are already supporting FlyZero with projects testing concepts and innovations to help meet this goal.

A materials expert at the University of Nottingham has secured over £2.1m to develop new coatings for use in aerospace that could cut jet plane CO2 emissions

Dr Tanvir Hussain has received the five-year fellowship – funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council – to find new modelling and processing techniques that will overhaul the design and manufacture of advanced ceramic materials for the next-generation of air and space travel. The long-term vision is to build a Centre of Excellence in Ceramic Coatings at the University.

Dr Hussain, from the Coatings and Surface Engineering Research group, explains, “Ceramics are an important group of materials and their processing into aerospace coatings and components requires specialist techniques. Current approaches for new materials discovery and production are wasteful, costly and energy inefficient.”

Using Artificial Intelligence (AI) and advanced chemistry, Dr Hussain will influence the molecular architecture of ceramic materials to tailor their properties and to make them more durable and sustainable.

To facilitate widespread industrial uptake, the project aims to produce bespoke ceramic coatings designed and manufactured with thermal, electrical and environmental barrier properties that can be fine-tuned to their desired applications in aerospace.

This includes:

  • thermal barrier coatings to protect superalloys from high temperatures
  • environmental barrier coatings to protect ceramic composites from steam
  • electrolytes for fuel cells and solar cells in auxiliary power generation for electric aircraft
  • insulating coatings for electric motors for the electrification of aircrafts
  • corrosion and wear-resistant coatings for various critical components in aero-engines“The research will lead to the creation of products for the aerospace industry with improved properties, performances and reduced materials processing times; that can be manufactured in large volumes at a fraction of a cost of today’s methods,” adds Dr Hussain.According to current figures, flights produce 915 million tonnes of CO2 worldwide and aviation is responsible for 12 per cent of CO2 emissions from all transport sectors. The International Civil Aviation Organization has aspirational goals for reducing the climate impact of global aviation by improving fuel efficiency by two percent annually by 2050. Advanced ceramic coatings with bespoke functionalities are essential for this ambitious goal and any future electrification of aerospace propulsion.

    Jet engines increasingly operate at very high temperatures to improve thermodynamic efficiency and reduce pollutant emissions. However it’s an approach that can reduce the lifespan of the engine and its parts and lead to more maintenance checks and less flying time – both of which costs huge sums to airlines and engine manufacturers. Ceramics coatings are able to withstand searing heat, which makes then valuable in aero engine componentry.

    Ceramic coatings are already, for example, applied to air-cooled metallic (superalloys) turbine blades. The blades rotate 10,000 times per minute, reaching 1,300oC in operation — it is equivalent of taking an ice-cube from the freezer, placing in a hot oven, and expecting it not to melt. Without ceramic coatings, there can be no air travel or flight to Mars. Despite being typically as thin as human hair (1/5 of a millimetre), ceramic coatings have very low thermal conductivity, which allows for a drop of 200-300oC between the gas and the metal surface temperature, which enables blades to operate even in inhospitable environments.

    Similarly, ceramic material is widely used as a thermal barrier coating on rocket engine nozzles, however the chemistries and manufacturing methods involved date back to the 1960-70s and are not advanced enough to support commercial space travel. Guided by AI, Dr Hussain will develop new chemistries for ceramic coatings that make rocket engines more efficient and reusable – helping to make deep space travel accessible for humans.

    Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Knowledge Exchange, Professor Dame Jessica Corner said, “This new EPSRC fellowship is a significant milestone in Nottingham’s ambition to be a recognised centre for excellence in advanced materials engineering. Through innovation, the research will support the post-pandemic recovery of the aerospace sector and positively impact the CO2 efficiency of flight and space exploration in future years.”

    The Propulsion Futures Beacon at the University has recently invested in three state-of-the-art automated coating booths and the UK’s only Suspension Plasma Spray (SPS) facility. This million pound investment in infrastructure will enable the researchers at Nottingham to develop brand new coatings for the aerospace sector.

    Project partners includes:

More information is available from Dr Tanvir Hussain on 0115 95 13795 or or Emma Lowry, Media Relations Manager (Engineering) on 0115 84 67156 or

Electric motor stator coil [/h2]

The University of Nottingham share of Driving the Electric Revolution funding from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) will fund new equipment to support innovative manufacturing processes for advanced electrical machines and drives to deliver on the UK’s net zero ambitions

Driving the Electric Revolution award to boost electrification support for businesses at the University of Nottingham – University of Nottingham

The University of Nottingham is part of the 2ZERO consortium to demonstrate the feasibility and advantages of regional electric aviation transport 

Electric commuter flight one step closer to take-off under new challenge award – University of Nottingham