UK aerospace steps up to fight Covid-19

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A consortium of industrial, technology and engineering businesses from across the UK’s aerospace, automotive and medical sectors, has come together to produce medical ventilators to help Britain’s fight against Covid-19. The aerospace partners include Airbus, BAE Systems, GKN Aerospace, Meggitt, Renishaw and Thales.

The group, named the VentilatorChallengeUK Consortium (“the consortium”) is led by Dick Elsy, CEO of High Value Manufacturing Catapult, a group of manufacturing research centres in the UK.

Over the past week the consortium has been investigating production of a range of ventilator design options to meet a high-level specification for a Rapidly Manufactured Ventilator System (RMVS) developed by clinicians and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

The UK Minister for Business and Industry, Nadhim Zahawi said:Over the coming weeks I will be working closely with the consortium as part of our shared ambition to protect our NHS and save lives. Over 3,000 companies answered the Prime Minister’s call for ventilator production and their help will be vital as we make our way through this turbulent period.”

The consortium has evaluated all requirements to design, manufacture, assemble and test components, as well as finished medical ventilators. Companies in the consortium have now received formal orders from the UK Government in excess of 10,000 units.

The consortium will now accelerate production of an agreed new design, based on existing technologies, which can be assembled from materials and parts in current production.  The device combines existing proven clinical equipment and is the clinicians’ first choice for the RMVS.

The regulator has been involved throughout and the consortium anticipates a ‘straightforward and very prompt’ regulatory sign off after the final audit.

An Airbus spokesperson told Aircraft Interiors International, “These are unprecedented times and Airbus will help where it can. Our engineers and technology teams in France, Germany, Spain and the UK are investigating the practicalities of how we might best support the design, manufacturing and assembly of critical medical equipment.”

The consortium is now working at full speed to take the necessary steps in order to increase production of this design. Production will begin this week.

The consortium also includes another producer of medical ventilators and it will provide them with additional manufacturing support and assembly facilities in order to scale-up production of a second existing ventilator design which has full regulatory approval.

In response to the NHS’ requirements to treat coronavirus patients, there is a range of other projects aiming to increase ventilator production.

Dick Elsy, chief executive of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult said,“This consortium brings together some of the most innovative companies in the world. Every day, their highly skilled staff collaborate to create solutions that help millions of people, and this project is no different. They are working together with incredible determination and energy to scale-up production of much-needed ventilators and combat a virus that is affecting people in many countries. I am confident this consortium has the skills and tools to make a difference and save lives.”

If you want to help, all offers of support should be registered through the Government’s web page rather than by approaching the consortium directly.

Companies and groups involved in the initiative include:

  • Airbus
  • BAE Systems
  • Ford Motor Company
  • GKN Aerospace
  • High Value Manufacturing Catapult
  • Inspiration Healthcare Group
  • Meggitt
  • Penlon
  • Renishaw
  • Rolls-Royce
  • Siemens Healthineers and Siemens UK
  • Smiths Group
  • Thales
  • Ultra Electronics
  • Unilever
  • UK-based F1 teams: Haas F1, McLaren, Mercedes, Red Bull Racing, Racing Point, Renault Sport Racing, Williams

Key enablers:

  • Accenture
  • Arrow Electronics
  • Dell Technologies
  • Microsoft
  • PTC
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About Author

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Ever since his first flight on a TriStar, Adam has loved air travel, and since becoming editor of the Aircraft Interiors International brand he has really enjoyed the opportunity to be involved with the latest aircraft and airline products before they are even launched. Adam co-ordinates the running of the magazine, from commissioning articles and artwork, to ensuring that high standards of quality are maintained, as well as managing online content. Adam is proud to sit on the jury of the Crystal Cabin Awards and to have laid on the bed in Etihad's Residence.

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