Innovative 'eco wing' scoops prestigious 2019 MacRobert Award for engineering

A new kind of composite aircraft wing has scooped a prestigious UK award for engineering.

Created by Belfast-based company Bombardier, the resin-infused advanced composite aircraft wing minimises the environmental impact of commercial jets.

The wing is being used on the Airbus A220 aircraft and is the first certified commercial aircraft wing to be made using a process called resin transfer infusion (RTI). The RTI process sees a complex structure created by placing dry fabric into moulds before impregnating it with liquid resin, which then sets into shape under heat and pressure.

The team behind the innovation picked up the MacRobert Award for their efforts – the award is bestowed by the Royal Academy of Engineering and is the UK’s longest-running engineering prize. This year marks its 50th anniversary.

The team will pick up £50,000 in prize money and a gold medal apiece.

‘Bombardier Belfast is thrilled to win the Royal Academy of Engineering’s 2019 MacRobert Award. It’s a fantastic recognition of our highly-skilled workforce, who have created a unique, cutting-edge technology to produce composite wings in Belfast which fly on commercial aircraft around the world,’ said Michael Ryan, the Chief Operating Officer of Aerostructures at Bombardier Aviation.

‘I’m extremely proud of our employees’ engineering innovation, the significant support of our supply chain, and of Northern Ireland as a global leader in aerospace technology,’ he said.

‘We’ve been developing our advanced composite expertise in Belfast for half a century and it’s an immense honour to receive the gold medal in the MacRobert Award’s 50th year.’

Dr Dame Sue Ion, the chair of the Royal Academy of Engineering MacRobert Award judging panel, said: ‘Bombardier’s composite wing reflects how excellence in aeronautical engineering benefits both society and the environment. At a time of uncertainty for Belfast’s engineering community, we hope this award helps them achieve the world-wide recognition they deserve.’

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