The ELF programme is being undertaken by GKN Aerospace and Rolls-Royce and is aimed at bringing new engine fan blade technologies to market. The composite engine fan blade is being developed to improve aircraft engine performance and reduce emissions.

“This new facility, based on the Isle of Wight, UK, is a key part of our commitment to creating a global centre of excellence for aero-engine components and structures within GKN Aerospace," says Rich Oldfield, Technical Director at GKN Aerospace. "It will ensure we, our partner and suppliers can sustain the level of development progress required to have composite engine fan blade technology ready to meet major international business opportunities – including upgrades to existing aircraft and engines as well as entirely new airframe programmes.”

“Furthermore, these important process developments will be transferable to the automated manufacture of many other aero-engine components and structures and will benefit other key UK industrial sectors such as marine, health, construction and energy, he adds.”

This stage of ELF will be completed by 2012 with processes proven. At that time GKN Aerospace will focus on production and the detailed optimisation of the manufacturing process.

GKN Aerospace and Rolls-Royce are being supported in this development by the South of England Economic Development Agency (SEEDA). In a matched funding exercise, SEEDA is investing £7.4 million to support the partner companies and the technology base in the South of England.