Engineering firm CCP Gransden has secured major funding as part of an aerospace initiative, to carry out focused research and development into innovative aircraft components of the future.

CCP Gransden specialises in composite technologies and thermoplastics, and currently designs, engineers and manufactures equipment for the pharmaceutical, chemical, agrifood industries, as well as for aerospace clients. The research project - which will last 18 months - will focus on the use of thermoplastic materials for the aerospace industry with a view to reducing processing time, making parts lighter in weight, and making parts easier to install and repair.

CCP Gransden, based in Newtownards, Co Down, has been offered nearly £100,000 (about €140,000), under the National Aerospace Technology Exploitation Programme (NATEP), through Invest Northern Ireland’s grant for R&D, which is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund. NATEP is designed specifically to encourage SMEs to develop new technologies and help them win new business.

Through its participation in Belfast’s advanced composites and engineering research centre, NIACE, CCP Gransden developed its application and subsequent presentation, demonstrating successfully that the proposed research would make a significant contribution to the aerospace industry. Bombardier, a key founder of NIACE and an active supporter of the local supply chain, also supported the application.

Jim Erskine, MD of CCP Gransden, said: “We went through a very rigorous process in order to secure the funding, which included involvement by major aerospace companies in the UK, all of whom strongly back the NATEP scheme. We are indebted to Invest NI, the NIACE Centre, Bombardier and other local aerospace companies for their assistance and support. We’re all looking forward to getting the project under way.”

Kevin McCann, Invest NI’s director of research and development, said: “This NATEP research project is a significant and strategic investment by CCP Gransden which has the potential to contribute to our growing aerospace sector. Industry experts in Bombardier along with the universities, through NIACE, will help the company explore the latest thinking on composite material processing.”

Once the research gets under way, CCP Gransden will continue to be supported by NATEP experts who represent leading aerospace companies such as Airbus, Bombardier, Rolls-Royce, GKN and others, who advise on project design, help if problems arise, and also suggest routes to market.