Wing Lean Innovative Future Technology (Wing LIFT)

Lead Participant: Airbus Operations Limited


The global air travel has seen a significant growth in recent decades, doubling every 15 years and thereby demonstrating strong demand for a new aircraft. Airbus is one of the key players in satisfying this demand with an industry record order backlog of over 7000 aircraft to date and made a new annual company record of 635 aircraft in 2015. Efficiency and innovation is key to maintain global competitiveness in such a challenging and fierce environment with a threat of new market entrants alongside strong financial and industrial performance from the competitors.

The Wing of the Tomorrow programme is developing composte wing assembly technologies and one of the biggest challenges for a new product will be industrialising these new technologoes to enable the required ramp up to rate 60 or more per month, in a cost effective way. The proposed project builds on achievements from the previous ATI funded Factory of Aircraft Future (FoAF) project taking them to a higher level of technology maturity thus enabling exploitation of Design for Manufacture opportunities for the Wing of Tomorrow.

The project provides essential technical building blocks to enable industrialisation of the Wing of Tomorrow, through the associated demonstrator programme. This will be achieved through the development of key technologies in the areas of Automated Wing Assembly, Inspection and Equipping for Hybrid Aluminium/Carbon/Titanium product. It also aims to further develop some capabilities and technologies introduced in the Step Change for Efficient Production (STEP) project which will be required for assembly of composite wings at high rate.

Early exploitation and development of such technologies in the current A320 and A350 programmes will reduce the industrialisation risk and help secure Wing of Tomorrow manufacture in the UK by ensuring Broughton is equipped with the required capability and competitively positioned for next generation wing. Thus protecting thousands of jobs over the medium to long term at Airbus Broughton plant and maintaining the UK as the centre of excellence for Wing Assembly and positioning it for future products.

The benefits from this project will also apply to the collaborative partners and the technologies they develop with the opportunity to be more competitive and profitable in the markets that they supply. In this case Spirit AeroSystems, Luebbering and the University of Nottingham. This partnership will strengthen Airbus relationship with its 1st tier UK supplier base while also preparing them for the future.

Lead Participant

Project Cost

Grant Offer

Airbus Operations Limited, BRISTOL £9,001,000 £ 4,500,500


Spirit AeroSystems (Europe) Limited, London, United Kingdom £8,962,102 £ 4,481,051
University of Nottingham £800,644 £ 400,322
Luebbering (UK) Limited, St Asaph £694,180 £ 347,090


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