Aerospace giant BAE Systems has teamed up with the AMRC to drive digital innovations including data visualisation, automation and digital inspection into the maintenance of aircraft to reduce costs, improve efficiency and lower carbon emissions.
Future Air Support was launched by BAE Systems in November 2022 at Royal Air Force (RAF) Coningsby, home to the UK’s Typhoon fleet. The University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) has joined the project as a research partner to investigate how digital technologies – along with greener, sustainable solutions – can be used to elevate the RAF’s fleet of frontline aircraft.
The innovations from the project will significantly reduce costs and improve the availability of front line Typhoon fighter jets and, in the future, Tempest. These technologies could be used to reduce fatigue and chance of injuries among support crews as well as improve the speed of maintenance on aircraft. Some of the programmes being trialled include: exoskeletons, autonomous co-bots, augmented reality headsets and sustainable operations.
The AMRC has also worked with BAE Systems to support mixed reality and geotagging technologies to build a powerful maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) digital twin. The Future Air Support project is the next step in that work. The partnership builds on a long-established relationship between the AMRC and BAE Systems that has produced transformational collaborations such as the robotic countersinking project, which enabled an automated production system to accurately machine holes in composite aircraft components; the development of a collaborative robot workstation fitted with a range of digital technologies, which has been introduced to BAE Systems’ Warton site in Lancashire; and the evolution of the Factory of the Future facility, an intelligent, smart factory set to increase productivity and revolutionise combat aircraft production.
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