Bombardier wins top engineering award for composite wing design
Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, as Royal Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, presented the MacRobert Award to the team of engineers in the 50th anniversary year of the UK’s most prestigious engineering prize.
The resin-infused advanced composite aircraft wing underpins the Airbus A220 and is the first certified commercial aircraft wing made using resin transfer infusion (RTI). The RTI process sees a complex structure created by placing the dry fabric into moulds before impregnating it with liquid resin, which then sets into shape under heat and pressure. While other processes involve pre-impregnated carbon fibre requiring intensive refrigeration before manufacture, the RTI process uses less energy, fewer parts and results in a lighter wing. Compared to a conventional metal wing, Bombardier’s carbon composite wing is approximately 10% lighter helping to reduce fuel burn in flight, with an accompanying reduction of CO2 and NOx emissions.
The £520 million investment in Bombardier’s aircraft wing programme is the largest ever single inward investment in Northern Ireland and around 200 suppliers across the UK are directly involved with the programme alongside many others throughout the supply chain.
Bombardier was chosen from a shortlist of four finalists that included Darktrace, M Squared and OrganOx. Founded in 1969, the MacRobert Award is overseen by the Royal Academy of Engineering and is the UK’s longest-running engineering prize.
The Award honours the winning organisation with a gold medal and the team members with a cash prize of £50,000. It recognises engineering teams that demonstrate outstanding innovation, tangible societal benefit and proven commercial success within the UK engineering sector.