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The future now

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The future now

Bowyer Engineering’s expansion plans have seen the arrival of two large 5-axis CNC machines, one twin-pallet horizontal CNC machine and a small mill-turn machine

In a Q&A session, Bowyer Engineering’s new sales director, Bob Burggy outlines how a new philosophy on future direction will see the company become an even more exciting place to be part of in the future.

Bowyer Engineering was founded in Clerkenwell in 1946 when the company initially worked in the provision of tooling and equipment for the telecommunications industry. In 1969 Bowyer Engineering, by now specialising in volume machining, re-located to a new greenfield site in Andover as part of a London ‘overspill’ agreement.

The company continued to evolve by establishing working relationships with other companies and began to develop and construct automated special purpose machines for use in diverse high-tech industries following a chance opportunity to design and build robotic welding fixtures for a specialist supplier. By 1995 it was rapidly running out of space for new CNC machines and office space and a 400m2 extension was built as well as a mezzanine.

Bowyer Engineering has gained a reputation as solution providers for part or complete projects, and can evolve into new areas as and when required. Following-on from the success of the special purpose machines, and taking advantage of opportunities whenever they arise, the company diversified into instrumentation in the 1980s, subsequently expanding into NDT support in the early 2000s with the provision of EDM notching facilities.

A complete internal rebuild of the premises (then 50 years old) was started in 2018, resulting in 50% more office space and re-planned machining and assembly space. In addition, further expansion has continued with replacement of older equipment in 2020, when two large 5-axis CNC machines, one twin-pallet horizontal CNC machine and a small mill-turn machine were added.

Bowyer Engineering manufactures and repairs instrumentation for gas turbine development and test programmes

Q) What are the types of performance demands placed on your company by today’s aero customers?

Firstly, reaction time. We can respond much faster to the changes and demands of the major customers we are supporting. As our authorisation loop is shorter, we can make quick decisions and pull the trigger faster on urgent needs for projects.

Secondly, relationships across the business. We pride ourselves at supporting and working with different sections throughout many of our larger company customers. This creates a working partnership and assists the customer to build bridges across inter-departmental resource.

Q) Do you see tier suppliers gravitating towards more military contract work now that some of the civil work has dried up for the foreseeable future?

This has not been the case for us yet. We support niche areas within the civil aviation industry that need to continue. There was an initial 3-6 months dip, as our customer base assessed their situation. Now they have identified the key projects within their business and need to proceed. Military aviation opportunities are still very welcome, and we are well versed in dealing with enquiries from this sector.

Q) Tell me more about the kind of aerospace component contract work you are involved in?

We develop, manufacture and repair on-wing engine inspection and test equipment. We undertake the development in conjunction with the customer, so they do not need to employ a whole department and keep them on standby for when urgent inspection equipment is required. It’s a sensitive area for our customers, so it’s difficult to be specific. Our kits are used on-wing after a specific number of engine cycles to confirm certain components will reach the scheduled service interval.

Q) Is there a particular success story you can briefly talk about?

Our success story has been the support of the Trent 1000 engine, reacting fast for the customer, and getting a support solution together and providing the logistics to get the solution out across the world.

During the pandemic, like a lot of engineering businesses, we’ve stepped up to support ventilator manufacture. MRT Castings, who manufacture several components for ventilators, had a 500% increase in demand. In supporting the cause to defeat the virus during the initial lockdown, we were more than happy to turn 50% of our machine shop over to help. We still have our staff and plant supporting this demand and expect to do this till early this year.

Q) What are your thoughts on the disruptive technology of additive manufacturing?

We’ve always embraced new technology. We see additive manufacturing as an addition to the solution portfolio rather than a competitor. During the early introduction on DMLS, we supported 3D printing companies with the finish machining of components and still support them with overspill for complex projects. The technology still struggles with sufficiently round holes and threads requiring finish machining. In the areas where we work, fully machined components are still the preferred option for pressure rakes and the intricate inspection equipment we manufacture. We conduct 3D printing in-house for trial development parts. We would typically print two or three variants before we machine a development part.

Q) Do you find the current UK manufacturing industry an easy industry in which to do business and keep pace with changing trends?

Generally yes. The changes in ISO, AS9100 and SABRe have been at a pace we can see coming and deal with as they happen. EC legislation for shipping and export has been the biggest challenge, but we have invested and trained our staff, so we feel we are currently keeping pace with the changes.

Q) What differentiates your company from the competition – why should a customer use you over your nearest rival?

Our ability to provide a complete solution. We’re not just a machine shop, an instrumentation and assembly shop, design house or project manage sub-contract services. We can provide a combination of any of these services, which makes us a one-stop shop solution provider. Doing as much as possible in-house enables a high level of control of the services to deliver the projects on time.

Q) Having recently joined the company, what are your aims and ambitions – does the company have a clear vision ahead?

Growth is an important vision for the future; both the expansion of the existing customer base and diversification into new markets are important for Bowyer. Success in the specialised sectors of the aerospace industry has curtailed the move into new markets. However, Bowyer has recently made significant investment in the facility with new plant of the latest technology, expansion and improvements to the workplace maintaining excellent welfare for the workforce.

This, together with new philosophy from senior members of the management on future direction, means Bowyer Engineering will be an even more exciting place to be part of in the future. As sales director, I look forward to adding my experience and networking links to the plan; there is a fantastic sales, project and design team in place ready for the tasks ahead.

Work has started on the way in which we promote the company and the image it portrays. We have enlisted the assistance of local marketing experts to ensure that we are optimising the impact we have on the marketplace. A new look Bowyer is on the cards, but this will come in small steps for a bright and fresher future.

http://bowyerengineering.co.uk

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Source: https://www.aero-mag.com/bowyer-engineering-22012021/

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Virgin Galactic unveils new spaceship for its growing fleet

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Virgin Galactic has unveiled the company’s first SpaceShip III in its growing fleet, VSS Imagine.

The spaceship showcases Virgin Galactic’s innovation in design and astronaut experience. Imagine also demonstrates progress toward efficient design and production, as Virgin Galactic works to scale the business for the long-term.

VSS Imagine will commence ground testing, with glide flights planned for this summer from Spaceport America in New Mexico.

The livery design, finished entirely with a mirror-like material, reflects the surrounding environment, constantly changing colour and appearance as it travels from earth to sky to space.

Leveraging a modular design, the SpaceShip III class of vehicles are built to enable improved performance in terms of maintenance access and flight rate. This third generation of spaceship will lay the foundation for the design and manufacture of future vehicles.

As VSS Imagine begins ground testing, manufacturing will progress on VSS Inspire, the second SpaceShip III vehicle within the Virgin Galactic fleet. The introduction of the SpaceShip III class of vehicles is an important milestone in Virgin Galactic’s multi-year effort that targets flying 400 flights per year, per spaceport.

VSS Imagine is unveiled ahead of VSS Unity’s next test flight, which is planned for May 2021.

Michael Colglazier, CEO of Virgin Galactic, commented: “Today we unveiled our SpaceShip III class of vehicles, marking the beginning of the Virgin Galactic fleet. VSS Imagine and Inspire are stunning ships that will take our future astronauts on an incredible voyage to space, and their names reflect the aspirational nature of human spaceflight. Congratulations to our dedicated team who worked so brilliantly to achieve this milestone.”

Richard Branson, founder of Virgin, added: “Virgin Galactic spaceships are built specifically to deliver a new, transforming perspective to the thousands of people who will soon be able to experience the wonder of space for themselves. As a SpaceShip III class of vehicle, Imagine is not just beautiful to look at, but represents Virgin Galactic’s growing fleet of spaceships. All great achievements, creations and changes start with an idea. Our hope is for all those who travel to space to return with fresh perspectives and new ideas that will bring positive change to our planet.”

www.virgingalactic.com

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Source: https://www.aero-mag.com/virgin-galactic-unveils-new-spaceship-for-its-growing-fleet/

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Hexcel joins ASCEND project

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Hexcel joins ASCEND project

Hexcel has announced its role within the recently launched UK-based project called ASCEND (Aerospace and Automotive Supply Chain Enabled Development) that will focus on developing high-rate manufacturing and processing technologies that will accelerate the development of new, lightweight advanced composite materials.

The composites company will join lead partner GKN Aerospace and 13 other project stakeholders in a collaboration across the UK supply chain to develop the technologies and automation equipment required to manufacture lightweight, more fuel-efficient structures for sustainable air mobility, aerospace, and automotive industries.

Hexcel will contribute to the ASCEND project framework, developing a new HexPly fast cure prepreg system that will significantly reduce component processing times compared to existing aerospace prepregs.

In addition to its new fast curing prepreg technology, Hexcel’s range of Liquid Composite Moulding (LCM) products will be incorporated into the ASCEND project work packages. The project will use both HiTape advanced unidirectional dry carbon reinforcements and HiMax multiaxial non-crimp fabrics reinforcements.

The ASCEND project will allow Hexcel to collaborate with Tier 1 companies, engineers, tooling specialists, and production equipment OEMs to deliver both prepreg and liquid composite moulding solutions that meet both the performance targets and satisfy the processing requirements for high-rate automated manufacture.

The technical integration enabled by the ASCEND project partnerships will ensure a complete understanding of customer performance and processing needs, coupled with the opportunity to industrialize new technologies utilizing the extensive capabilities of GKN’s Global Technology Centre in Bristol.

Paul Mackenzie, senior vice president and chief technology officer at Hexcel, said “We are  proud to be part of the ASCEND program, and we look forward to working with other leading companies as we develop processes and materials that help to make the next generation of sustainable air mobility, aerospace, and automotive vehicles possible. This project offers the perfect platform for Hexcel to collaborate and further develop our HexPly, HiMax, and HiTape technologies.”

The ASCEND partners working alongside Hexcel include Assyst Bulmer, Airborne, Cobham Mission Systems Wimborne, Cygnet Texkimp, DES Composites, FAR-UK, Hive Composites, LMAT, Loop Technology, McLaren Automotive, The National Composites Centre, Solvay Composite Technologies, Rafinex, and Sigmatex (UK).

Together, the group looks forward to delivering the material and automation innovations that will power more sustainable mobility solutions of the future.

www.hexcel.com

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Source: https://www.aero-mag.com/hexcel-joins-ascend-project/

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Boeing Commercial Airplanes extends landing gear kits contract with Magellan

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Boeing Commercial Airplanes division has extended its component supply contract with Canada-based supplier Magellan Aerospace.

Under this long-term contract, Magellan will continue to supply landing gear kits and structural components for Boeing platforms such as the 737, 767, and 777.

The contract extension also shows that Magellan meets Boeing Commercial Airplanes’ cost, quality and performance requirements.

Magellan business development, marketing and contract vice-president Haydn Martin said: “Securing this major business extension for key Boeing platforms is foundational for our New York and Kitchener facilities as the aerospace industry works to recover from the impact of the global pandemic.

“The confidence that Boeing has placed in Magellan is significant and demonstrates our ability to offer our customers comprehensive and reliable solutions.”

For Boeing, the company is using a vertical integration strategy that leverages global resources in Ontario, New York City, and India.

It has also made significant investments across all its facilities regarding manufacturing technology and the workforce to enhance its competitiveness worldwide.

Magellan will deliver these kits and hardware from its facilities in Kitchener, Ontario and New York City, New York. The company will also produce an extra supply of kits to reduce production risk.

Deliveries will be made directly to Boeing’s assembly facilities in Renton and Everett, Washington, US.

Last month, Magellan signed a five-year renewal agreement with Avio Aero to supply magnesium and aluminium castings.

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Source: https://www.aerospace-technology.com/news/boeing-commercial-aircraft-magellan/

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ZeroAvia raises new funding for hydrogen-electric engine development

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Zero-emission aviation firm ZeroAvia has raised $24.3m in new funding to support the development of a 2MW hydrogen-electric engine.

Hong Kong-based venture capital firm Horizons Ventures, an existing investor, led the latest funding round and was joined by new investor British Airways.

Other investors, including Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Ecosystem Integrity Fund, Summa Equity, Shell Ventures, and SYSTEMIQ, also joined the financing.

The financing takes the company’s total private investment to more than $53m while the total funding raised is close to $74m since its formation.

ZeroAvia’s funding comes a few months after the UK Government, through the Department for Business Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), and Innovate UK, announced a $16.3m (£12.3m) grant to deliver a 19-seat hydrogen-electric powered aircraft in the market by 2023.

The new funding will accelerate the hydrogen-electric powertrain development for a ten to 20-seater regional aircraft.

ZeroAvia aims to commercialise the engine as early as 2024. The company aims to enter the more than 50-seater commercial aircraft segment by 2026.

The funding will also de-risk the company ambition to power a 100-seat single-aisle aircraft by 2030.

ZeroAvia CEO and founder Val Miftakhov said: “This new funding, in conjunction with our other recent milestones, will significantly accelerate our path to zero-emission solutions for larger regional aircraft at a commercial scale.

“With many airlines lining up and ready to make the shift to zero-emissions, we expect to see wide-scale adoption of this technology.”

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Source: https://www.aerospace-technology.com/news/zeroavia-electric-raising-funds/

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