Innovation That Matters

Graphene-skinned aircraft

First ever graphene-skinned aircraft revealed

Mobility & Transport

The 3.5m-wide aircraft was unveiled at Farnborough Air Show 2018.

The aviation industry has expanded in ways many never even imagined. From electric planes to driverless air taxis and solar powered jets, elements of air travel feature more and more futuristic technology. Systems are transforming the way passengers engage with the air travel experience, such as with VR seat selection. Technology has even been manipulated so it informs pilots when to make the safest takeoff from the runway. Airplanes and airports would certainly be a very different space without advances in technology.

The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) has revealed its own take on forward-thinking avionics with the world’s first graphene skinned plane. Juno, a 3.5m-wide graphene skinned aircraft, made its debut on the North West Aerospace Alliance (NWAA) stand at Farnborough Air Show 2018. UCLan’s aerospace engineering team has worked in partnership with many organisations and businesses on the project. These include Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), the University of Manchester’s National Graphene Institute (NGI), Haydale Graphene Industries (Haydale) and a range of other businesses. They worked together to develop the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), which also includes graphene batteries and 3D printed parts. Haydale supplied a majority of the material and all the graphene used in the aircraft.

The Juno project team is the latest stage of the partnership between the University and the aforementioned companies and organisations. They predict the partnership to expand following the opening of the £32m Energy Industries Council (EIC) facility in February 2019. The next stage of the project is to fly Juno and conduct further tests over the next two months.




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