Atkins and Aeralis to partner on low-cost modular training jet aircraft


Engineering and design consultancy Atkins is partnering with UK-based startup Aeralis to develop a new family of training jet aircraft.

Aeralis, which was founded in 2015 and a team of engineers from Atkins are to partner on developing two out of the three jets in Aeralis’s family of modular aircraft – a  Basic Trainer and an Advanced Trainer. Each aircraft will comprise a common core fuselage that will be fully adaptable using different wings and engines depending on the level of training being undertaken.

Aeralis aims to reduce the acquisition and maintenance of its family of training jets by 30% compared to conventional flight training systems with its modular design approach, which it claims will provide an 85% commonality in aircraft parts.

The company is also developing the Aeralis X acrobatic aircraft as part of the family. The firm is developing a technology demonstrator of its “Common Core Fuselage” for the aircraft which it expects to be complete next month.

Atkins, which is better known for its work designing airports, railways and buildings, is helping Aeralis to design the basic and advanced trainer aircraft and will make use of data-enhanced 3D modelling, so-called “digital twins”, to explore different design concepts for the aircraft’s fuselage and its interchangeable components.

Dave Clark, aerospace and defence market director at Atkins, said, “Our collaboration with Aeralis provides us with a great opportunity to help shape the development of cutting-edge aircraft design. Thanks to innovative tools such as a digital twin, we will be able to run virtual tests on the training jets before they are built to drive efficiencies and reduce the risks associated with aircraft design and production.”

Tim Davies, Aeralis’s strategy director, said, “We are looking forward to working with Atkins to build modular aircraft using innovative design processes that will motivate a new generation of young people to train in aerospace engineering, manufacturing and STEM subjects as well as follow careers in aviation.”

The Advanced Trainer jet will be powered by two Honeywell/ITEC F-124 engines, features a swept wing design and will provide training for 6th generation fighter aircraft. The Basic Trainer will be used to train pilots for 3rd or 4th generation combat aircraft  and will be powered by a single Honeywell/ITEC F-124 low-bypass turbofan engine.

The training simulation that will be installed onto the training jets is currently being developed  in partnership with Thales.

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Ben has worked as a journalist and editor, covering technology, engineering and industry for the last 20 years. Initially writing about subjects from nuclear submarines to autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies, he was editor of a leading UK-based engineering magazine before becoming editor of Aerospace Testing in 2017.

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