Gloucester-based Dowty Propellers completes its largest ever propeller R&D programme.

Dowty Propellers

Dowty Propellers, a global leader in composite propeller systems, has successful completed its largest ever propeller R&D programme.

Dowty led the four-year Digital Propulsion (DigiProp) research and development programme in collaboration with three of seven of the UK’s High Value Manufacturing Catapult centres. This was an ambitious £20 million project, part funded by the UK government, that sought to innovate every aspect of the design, manufacture and testing of its propeller systems.

Dowty has been researching how to evolve its blade composite manufacturing processes to deliver higher strength and lighter weight.

Dowty Propellers collaborated with three UK innovation centres on the DigiProp project. The National Composites Centre (NCC) in Bristol, The Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) in Coventry and The University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC); all members of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult. The partners offered subject matter expertise on both established and emerging technologies, allowing Dowty Propellers to unlock some of the best next generation capabilities and innovations that the UK has to offer.

Mark Scully, Head of Technology for Advanced Systems & Propulsion at the Aerospace Technology Institute, said: “This project has delivered innovations in propulsion performance and cost through design and productivity which has helped to transform R&D for propellers.

“With the assistance of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult partners, the manufacturing innovation has been deployed into the new state-of-the-art Dowty facility in Gloucester. This provides an excellent foundation for Dowty and the UK to secure future sustainable aerospace opportunities.”

Dowty Propellers is now beginning to use the next generation technologies realised in DigiProp for evolving aircraft applications and to target next generation platforms. Potential customers are benefiting from its ability to support customer attribute trade studies with short turnaround time on performance analysis.

DigiProp would not have been possible without support and funding from the ATI Programme, a joint Government and industry investment to maintain and grow the UK’s competitive position in civil aerospace design and manufacture. The programme, delivered through a partnership between the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and Innovate UK, addresses technology, capability and supply chain challenges.

Dowty Propellers is a leader in electronically controlled, all-composite propeller systems. Its products are used in applications that range from commercial airliners and military airlifters to multi-role seaplanes and marine hovercraft. With a proven record of product development, introduction and support, Dowty Propellers continually invests in technologies, production capabilities and human resources – resulting in propeller systems that are safe, efficient, and reliable.  Its history of firsts-to-market includes the all-composite propeller blade and full-authority digital propeller control.  More than 23,000 advanced composite blades have been delivered to date by Dowty Propellers, with the lead blade logging over 45,000 hours of flight time.

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