Rolls-Royce and GKN Aerospace announce composite material joint venture

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Rolls-Royce announced today that it has established a joint venture company with GKN Aerospace to carry out research and development into the use of composite materials in aero engine fan blades.

As part of its continuous drive to bring innovative products to market, Rolls-Royce is researching key technologies and alternative materials to further enhance the efficiency and environmental performance of its products.

Funding for the research and development is expected to be approximately £11 million. Rolls-Royce will fund and own 51 per cent of the venture, with GKN Aerospace responsible for 49 per cent.

The joint venture activities will build upon the development of composite blade applications undertaken during the EU-funded VITAL programme, and will combine the expertise of Rolls-Royce advanced engine technologies with GKN Aerospace’s composite research and automated manufacturing technologies.

Rolls-Royce Director - Research and Technology Ric Parker said: "Rolls-Royce has been working closely with GKN Aerospace on the latest carbon-composite technologies for some time and we look forward to building on this relationship with the formation of the joint venture. The composite technology research that this organisation will undertake is aimed at delivering light-weight and low-cost fan blades for engines for the next generation of airframe applications.”

GKN Aerospace Chief Executive Officer Marcus Bryson said: “We have long been a pioneer and driving force in the application of lightweight, high-performance composites to the airframe and it is one of our strategic goals to bring the benefits of composite materials to propulsion systems. This JV represents a critical step towards achieving that goal. Through our partnership with Rolls-Royce, we will achieve a genuine advance in propulsion system technology that will move us towards a lighter, more environmentally efficient aero-engine.”

  1. The joint venture agreement provides that in certain limited circumstances, Rolls-Royce may be required to purchase GKN’s shares in the joint venture at fair market value.
  2. Rolls-Royce, a world-leading provider of power systems and services for use on land, at sea and in the air, has established a strong position in global markets - civil aerospace, defence aerospace, marine and energy.
  3. The Group has a broad customer base comprising more than 600 airlines, 4,000 corporate and utility aircraft and helicopter operators, 160 armed forces, more than 2,000 marine customers, including 70 navies, and energy customers in nearly 120 countries. It employs around 38,800 people worldwide people in offices, manufacturing and service facilities in 50 countries and has businesses headquartered in the UK, US, Canada, Germany, Scandinavia and China. This global presence allows the Group to access long-term international growth opportunities with its technology, presence, partnerships and people.
  4. Rolls-Royce continues to invest in core technologies, products, people and capabilities with the objective of broadening and strengthening the product portfolio, improving efficiency and enhancing the environmental performance of its products. These investments create high barriers to entry.
  5. Each year, in collaboration with its partners, Rolls-Royce invests over £800 million on research and development, two thirds of which has the objective of further improving the environmental aspects of its products. The primary technology investment area is aimed at reducing noise and emissions.
  6. Sixty per cent of research and development investment and 40 per cent of new product development spending over the past five years has been outside the UK. Research and development is carried out in facilities in the UK, Germany, Italy, Singapore, Japan, the US and Scandinavia, with particularly strong relationships with the 29 universities where there are Rolls-Royce University Technology Centres.
  7. Annual sales were £7.4 billion in 2007, of which 55 per cent came from services revenues. The firm and announced order book at the end of 2007 stood at £45.9 billion, of which aftermarket services represent 30 per cent, providing visibility of future levels of activity.
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