Cranfield University marked the official start of construction of the new £67m Digital Aviation Research and Technology Centre (DARTeC) to be built at the Cranfield campus, with a groundbreaking ceremony on Friday 15 March Image: Cranfield University

The Centre at the University will spearhead the UK’s research into digital aviation technology

Cranfield University marked the official start of construction of the new £67m Digital Aviation Research and Technology Centre (DARTeC) with a groundbreaking ceremony on Friday 15 March.

To coincide with British Science Week, the Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, Chris Skidmore MP, was welcomed to the University by Cranfield’s Professor Helen Atkinson.

They were joined by guests from leading aviation businesses who are providing co-investment support for DARTeC.

Science and Innovation Minister Chris Skidmore said:

“The future of air travel will be cleaner, greener and more efficient and the new Digital Aviation Research and Technology Centre will ensure the UK remains at the forefront of pioneering the next generation of flight, from new self-sensing technology to electrifying air travel.”

The Centre will spearhead the UK’s research into digital aviation technology, investigating challenges facing the aviation industry such as:

  • The integration of drones into civilian airspace
  • Increasing the efficiency of airports through technological advances
  • Creating safe, secure shared airspace through secure data communication infrastructures
  • Increasing the reliability and availability of aircraft through self-sensing, self-aware technologies

Professor Helen Atkinson, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, School of Aerospace, Transport and Manufacturing, said:

“DARTeC will be part of Cranfield’s global research airport and provide the opportunity to advance the application of digital technologies in the air transport sector through partnership and collaboration.”

Artist's impression of DARTeC Image: Cranfield University

Funding for DARTeC is being provided through a consortium of leading aerospace and aviation companies. Including Thales UK, Saab AB, Aveillant, Boxarr, Blue Bear Systems Research, IATA and Transport Systems Catapult. As well as Research England and Cranfield University.

The Centre is scheduled to open in autumn 2020. Research areas will include a covered hangar laboratory with a 737-400 aircraft and next-generation technologies such a Holographic Radar System capable of monitoring and controlling airspace around Cranfield’s own airport.