Home Digitalisation Inmarsat supports opening of Cranfield University’s new digital aviation centre

Inmarsat supports opening of Cranfield University’s new digital aviation centre

DARTeC opened its doors yesterday to advance the application of digital technologies in the air transport sector.

Cranfield University’s Digital Aviation Research and Technology Centre (DARTeC) was officially opened yesterday by Kwasi Kwarteng, UK Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, supporting the country’s status as a global leader in digital aviation research.

Inmarsat, as a DARTeC consortium member, is proactively working with researchers at the Centre and other industry partners to advance the application of digital technologies in the air transport sector.

In addition, together with Honeywell Aerospace, we are providing DARTeC with Aspire 400 satellite communications terminals, airtime and engineering expertise. This will support the evaluation and development of future applications and solutions onboard Cranfield University’s aircraft, which will effectively serve as a ‘flying testbed/ laboratory’.

Driving digital innovation

“The importance of digitalisation has never been greater for the global aviation industry,” stated Anthony Spouncer, Inmarsat’s Senior Director of UAVs & UTM, during the DARTeC opening ceremony. “The advanced new Cranfield University DARTeC facility will play a key role in driving future research and innovations across industry critical issues, including sustainable aviation and integrating Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) into managed airspace.”

He added: “As a member of the DARTeC consortium, we look forward to collaborating with the wider DARTeC community and our world-class partner ecosystem on the many exciting initiatives to come.”

The £67 million world-leading facility is located next to Cranfield’s airport and consists of a central building with digital aviation research laboratories and collaborative open plan office space where staff, students and partners work together, and a partially covered ‘hangar laboratory’ connected to Cranfield’s 737-400 aircraft through an airport-style air bridge.

“This exciting new facility hails the dawn of a new era in our plan to deploy new technologies to cut emissions from aviation, paving the way for the sector to move towards a more efficient, greener and safer future,” stated Kwasi Kwarteng. “Backed by government funding, Cranfield University is helping to strengthen the UK’s competitive advantage in the rapidly emerging market in sustainable aviation, helping us achieve our net zero ambitions and strengthening our economy for future generations.”

Unique national asset

Other DARTeC consortium partners include Thales, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Aveillant, Blue Bear Systems Research, Boeing, BOXARR, Connected Places Catapult, Etihad Airways, Heathrow, the IVHM Centre, Saab, Spirent and the Satellite Applications Catapult, with co-investment support from Research England.

Ongoing research includes nine projects announced as winners of UK Research and Innovation’s Future Flight Challenge, with a total award value of over £8.5 million.

“The opening of DARTeC marks another stage in Cranfield’s proud history and heritage in aircraft and aviation research over the last 70 years,” said Professor Sir Peter Gregson, Chief Executive and Vice-Chancellor of Cranfield University. “The Centre will provide a unique national asset for the ground-breaking research which will be key to overcoming the challenges of future flight and delivering sustainable growth for the aviation sector.”

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