Dowty Propellers, a leading manufacturer of aircraft propeller systems for both civil and military applications, has announced approvals to create a new facility in the Gloucester area. This follows a fire in February 2015 that destroyed its operating headquarters and blade manufacturing facility. It is expected that the new facility will be operational in 2019.
The exact facility location will be determined by the end of this year on completion of a tender process to ensure that the best combination of cost and efficiency can be achieved.
Dowty Propellers has also announced the commencement of a £20M technology development project to deliver capabilities for both propeller systems and future propulsion systems. The project, Digital Propulsion, is match funded by the United Kingdom's Aerospace Technology Institute with a grant of £9.5 million, and overseen by Innovate UK. Partners include the UK's National Composites Centre, The University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre and the Manufacturing Technology Centre.
"A key focus of the ATI strategy for UK aerospace technology is defining the propulsion of the future: advanced technologies that will enable reductions in noise and fuel burn," said Gary Elliott, Chief Executive Officer of the Aerospace Technology Institute. "Dowty Propellers' Digital Propulsion project, through its state-of-the-art digital infrastructure to develop and manufacture propellers, is an integral part of delivering that strategy and building on the UK capability in this important area".
"We are delighted to be continuing our long history with the Gloucester area," said Oliver Towers, president of Dowty Propellers. "The decision to stay in this area was driven by the capabilities and commitment of our workforce that stretches back over 80 years. This decision, along with our launch of the UK-supported Digital Propulsion project, will enable us to maintain our position as a world leader in propeller systems with the latest technology, supported by world-class research and development."
These two projects, including the new facility and the technology development, represent the largest ever investment in Dowty Propellers, and demonstrate the future potential of its people and products.
"Our new facility will maintain close ties to our existing workforce and supply network and will incorporate the latest GE 'Brilliant Factory' philosophy," Towers continued.
Business Minister Richard Harrington said: "Dowty Propellers' decision to set up a new facility demonstrates the sustained strength of the UK's aerospace sector as well as growing quality skilled local jobs. "Boosting innovation is a key part of our modern Industrial Strategy. That's why the government is supporting Dowty Propellers' new technology project, helping to secure investment and future export success."
Dowty Propellers has been operating in its interim facility at Mitcheldean since early November 2015, where manufacturing capabilities for its composite propeller blades have been reestablished. The team will remain at the interim facility and will transfer to the new facility when it is operational in 2019. Dowty Propellers currently has about 340 employees in the Gloucester area.