The iAero innovation centre in Yeovil, which opened its doors in February 2022, is a collaboration between Somerset County Council, the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership and Leonardo Helicopters.
A Leonardo team has now taken residence in the modern innovation hub with a primary focus on aircraft autonomy, electrical systems, and sustainable VTOL (Vertical Take-Off and Landing) technologies.
The team led by Simon Stacey, Head of the Research & Innovation Team at Leonardo Helicopters UK, will address aircraft autonomy and the technologies being explored will consider the reduction of an aircrew’s workload through a variety of ways, such as sub-system health management and higher function autopilot capabilities, like sense and avoid.
Additionally, the team will explore the ability to extend the use of high power high voltage electrical systems in future rotorcraft, and examine how the carbon footprint can be reduced through the utilisation of new materials, alternative fuels, and the integration design processes of rotorcraft amongst many other ways of exploration.
Adam Clarke, MD of Leonardo Helicopters UK, commented: “This tenancy will further stimulate, significant investment and higher-value jobs within Somerset. The iAero centre marks the next frontier for the aerospace community in Somerset. The freedom to explore, experiment, and engineer at the centre will ensure the region remains at the cutting-edge of innovative flight technologies.
“The centre not only cements further that Somerset and indeed Yeovil are at the heart of world leading innovation within British aerospace but it will ensure this legacy continues through the future opportunities and long term prospects it will provide to the younger generation. It is an exciting time to be part of aerospace in the region.”