The development of aircraft wings will be the core focus of the newly-announced aerospace project at Airbus Filton. Pierre Albouy/Reuters

Minister for Industry and Economic Security, Nusrat Ghani, has today announced a new aerospace research and development (R&D) project to be held at industry-leading Airbus, at its Filton site just north of Bristol and in South Gloucestershire.

A reported £12 million in funding is to be provided from both the government and industry combined and will ultimately provide more high-skilled jobs in Southern Western England.

Minister Ghani visited the Filton site yesterday and has announced the funding for the project, which is to be titled, 'XWING BETA', will be delivered through the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) programme. The ATI programme is geared towards providing funds for research development to ensure Britain holds a strong position within civil aerospace and for the switch towards net zero aviation to arrive as soon as possible.

Airbus Filton currently employs approximately 2,700 highly skilled workers and part of the operations there include the development of future technologies for landing gear, fuel systems plus the designs of aircraft wings. The contribution the site has made to the aerospace sector has led to it establishing itself as Airbus's leading British location for R&D in civil aviation.

The newly announced project will centre on the development of brand-new aircraft wing technology in order to cut down on the level of CO2 emissions caused by flights. Also, the project will allow for the local staff and apprentices in the South West regions including engineers, technicians and other notable staff to be able to grow in their roles.

Work on longer air wings will be targeted especially as that type is beneficial in cutting down as the plane is then able to generate enough lift without large fuel usage. Also, the project will revolve around finding the necessary technology to allow the longer wings to be easier to fold in which would mean the aircraft occupy less room at airports.

Also, a new modern Wing Technology Development Centre has been opened by Minister Ghani and will provide the platform for new innovative creations for aircraft wing technologies and production possibilities.

Minister Ghani spoke on what a successful aerospace industry can help achieve and mentioned the South West's involvement. She stated: "Our world-class aerospace sector is helping us grow the economy and lead the way on greener air travel, and this new project at Airbus Filton will make sure the South West stays at the forefront of this innovation."

The minister also went on to add: "We're backing our aerospace sector to soar, and projects like these are helping drive forward our goal of net zero air travel by 2050 and securing high-wage, high-skill jobs across the country in the process."

This latest investment into Britain's aerospace sector follows on from last month's announcement at the 2023 Paris Air Show of £218 million being funded towards innovative British aerospace research projects going forward.

Also announced at the Paris Air Show was the news of leading Indian airline, IndiGo, acquiring 500 Airbus A320-family planes. This deal is history in the making as it is the highest-ever single purchase made by an airline within commercial aviation and will provide billions of pounds to Britain's economy as the nation is home to most of Airbus's aircraft wing manufacturers.

The funding provided by the ATI is representative of industry commitments to invest in brand-new aircraft and manufacturing technologies. This will ideally allow for additional private funding for Britain's aerospace industry in the region of £20 billion, which will in turn create jobs for over 100,000 people in the nation.

Minister Ghani also outlined the government's willingness to invest in further transformation in Britain's aerospace landscape by addressing SMEs and other organisations in the industry at an event yesterday. The event was hosted by suppliers of Britain's aerospace industry and aircraft component manufacturers including Airbus, GKN and Spirit AeroSystems.

The event could be looked back on as a watershed moment for Britain's aerospace industry as it was the first time the nation's top industry manufacturers aligned to share and put forward their future proposals to grow the sector.

Elsewhere, Britain signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the US state of Utah last month to bolster the trade ties between the two and collaborate in sectors including aerospace.

Also, projects by smaller entities within Britain's space sector are set to receive £2.1 million in investment from the UK Space Agency in an attempt to grow new innovative space technologies.