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Research led by Callen-Lenz into flight control systems for next-generation novel aircraft awarded £1m Government support

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A consortium led by Callen-Lenz that is researching a new approach to flight control systems for next-generation novel aircraft has been awarded a grant of £1m from the UK Government through the ATI Programme.

Project NOMAD (Novel Control Approaches to Complex Aircraft Dynamics) is an 18-month research programme to develop a technology framework, common interface and advanced low-workload cockpit for complex configuration aircraft. The framework provides a methodology – the ‘model-based journey’ – that can be applied to aircraft being developed for the urban air mobility (UAM) and personal air vehicle (PAV) markets.

The consortium includes the Satellite Applications Catapult, and the project will also develop enhanced SATCOM systems suitable for the operation of highly manoeuvrable civilian platforms in congested urban terrains.

An initial application of the new approach developed in Project NOMAD is being made to the Pegasus Vertical Business Jet (VBJ), an advanced business jet powered by an environmentally-friendly hybrid powerplant with a novel fan-in-wing configuration that has vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) capability.

The project is using two quarter-size Pegasus VBJ aircraft – approximately 4m wing tip-to-tip and 4m nose-to-tail. Flight trials will commence in March 2022, and the outputs will significantly de-risk the critical design elements and advance the full-scale aircraft programme.

Business Minister Paul Scully said:

“The work Callen-Lenz is doing to make the future of urban air mobility, such as flying taxis and personal air vehicles, a reality is a fantastic example of the aerospace sector’s commitment to innovation. Technologies like these will help protect jobs and cut emissions for decades to come.

“We are proud to be supporting this project through the Aerospace Technology Institute, helping us to future-proof our world leading aerospace sector and build back greener.”

Jonathan Webber, CEO at Callen-Lenz said:

“Project NOMAD supports the advanced air mobility market and meets the demand for travel that is safe, affordable and connected.

“The project has the potential to unlock multi-billion-pound new aerospace markets and potentially create thousands of high-value jobs in the UK. The support from the Aerospace Technology Institute demonstrates that the UK Government embraces the opportunity to position the UK as the global leader for flight control systems and the common interface in advanced aircraft, both crewed and unmanned.”

The ATI Programme is a joint UK Government and industry investment to maintain and grow the UK’s competitive position in civil aerospace design and manufacture. It is delivered through a partnership between the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and Innovate UK and addresses technology, capability and supply chain challenges.