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‘Take off’ for aviation science think-tank


A WORLDWIDE initiative led by Manchester Metropolitan University to assess problems and develop solutions for the global aviation industry has been launched with £5 million from the UK Government.

Announced on May 18, 2006 by Trade and Industry Secretary Alistair Darling, the funding is one of 11 competitive bid awards made under the Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF) to help build closer ties between business and higher education and turn ideas into enterprise.

Alistair Darling said: "Manchester Metropolitan University is leading the way in linking innovation to the aerospace and aviation business, and it’s vital they work with business to help translate new ideas and technology into increased productivity and regional growth."

MMU’s Department of Environmental and Geographical Sciences is leading Project OMEGA, an initiative to bring together world-class academic institutions to assess known and newly-emerging environmental challenges that the air transport and aeronautical industries must overcome during the next 50 years.

£200 billion industry

Solutions to sustainability, in particular, are paramount given that the UK has the second largest aerospace and aviation economy in the world, and that the industry across Europe is worth $200 billion dollars and supports 6.7 million jobs.

Professor David Raper, Director of MMU’s Centre for Air Transport and the Environment, said: "Over the last 30 years there has been a six-fold increase in air travel and in the same period a 60% improvement in fuel efficiency plus large reductions in aircraft noise. These improvements have been delivered through aeronautical research focused on technological and operational developments and change.

"Yet the growth of the industry is rapid with a predicted tripling of demand over the next 30-40 years. To fill this sustainability gap, we need new ways of thinking and new business models, combining expertise and best practice with careful attention to industry needs.

"MMU and its partners will be identifying the knowledge transfer needs of the industry over the coming years.”

Noise and air quality

Jonathan Bailey, Head of External Affairs at Manchester Airports Group, said: “Manchester Airport has for many years worked closely with MMU on a wide range of environmental issues relating to aviation, such as noise and air quality monitoring.

"We are delighted that the world renowned expertise built up by MMU in this field has been recognised with the award of this grant. We expect the project to be enormously useful in addressing the environmental impacts of the future."

The project involves eight other universities in the UK, - Cambridge, Oxford, Reading, Southampton, Sheffield, Leeds, Cranfield and Loughborough, and six in North America, among them Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Partners also include relevant government departments, and commercial organisations including Manchester Airport, British Airways, Rolls-Royce, Airbus and the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry.

Gareth Hollyman | alfa
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