Cranfield Aerospace Solutions Ltd (CAeS) were delighted to welcome the Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps during his visit to Cranfield University on Thursday 19th September.

The Transport Secretary stopped by on his way to make one of his first aviation speeches as Transport Secretary The focus of his speech was on the future of British Aviation and its vision to “lead the world in technological revolution” as it contributes to the UK meeting its target of “net zero carbon emissions by 2050.”

During his visit at CAeS, he toured around a number of the Company’s design and manufacturing facilities. CAeS is renowned for its whole aircraft concept design capabilities and very broad ranging approvals for aircraft modifications as an EASA/CAA aircraft Design Organisation (DOA) and Production Organisation (POA).

He was able to observe many of the ongoing projects and aircraft at CAeS and later in Cranfield University, to which he made mention in his address stating:  “Today I’ve glimpsed the future with technologies being developed by some of you in this room, allowing the sector to thrive sustainably in the 21st century. From a digital air traffic control tower to the (Aston Martin) Volante Vision.”

The Volante Vision eVTOL project was briefed to the SoS along with Project Fresson, in support of which Britten Norman had flown in an Islander/Defender aircraft for the visit.

Project Freson will convert a Britten Normal Islander aircraft to hybrid-electric propulsion and result in the world’s first passenger carrying services in electric aircraft. The £18.5m project has been submitted for government funding through the ATI.

Professor Sir Peter Gregson, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of Cranfield University, said: “There is a tremendous opportunity to bring academia, business and Government together to create an environment where the UK leads the world in the practical deployment of electric-powered aircraft and I welcome the Secretary of State’s commitment to this.

Encouraging the vision in his talk, the Transport Secretary expressed his desire for “the UK to become a hotbed for the design, manufacture and use of electric aircraft”.

The Secretary of State gave acknowledgement to the need for “the right infrastructure, the right batteries and the right research to make the electrification of flights take off.”

Mr Shapps then went on to echo his government’s recent announcement of “£300 million joint investment, from government and industry through the Future Flight Challenge.”

From the right, Paul Hutton – CEO at CAeS, Grant Shapps MP – the Secretary of State for Transport, Professor Sir Peter Gregson – Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of Cranfield University

Following the event, Paul Hutton – CEO of CAeS said “The evolution of Project Fresson and the progressing of the Aston Martin Volante Project (eVTOL) can result in the first new commercial aircraft designed and manufactured in the UK for decades. We believe that the time is right for the UK to re-establish commercial aircraft manufacture, through investment in a brand-new Industry 4.0 aircraft manufacturing facility to deliver these and other disruptive whole aircraft projects”

“It was an honour to have Grant Shapps visit our company to hear about our key projects, Fresson & Volante. It was very encouraging to hear him speak so positively about the UK Aerospace sector’s role in what will be the 3rd Revolution in Aviation and CAeS are very excited to be playing a significant part in it.” Jenny Kavanagh, Head of Airborne Systems Group said.

From left to right; Jenny Kavanagh – CAeS, Paul Hutton – CAeS, Paul Harris – Rolls Royce, Dame Deirdre Hutton – UK CAA, Professor Sir Peter Gregson – CU, Grant Shapps – Secretary of State and Professor Helen Atkinson – CU