Etihad becomes first airline to join UK’s leading digital aviation research project

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Etihad Airways has joined the £65 million (AED 317.7 million) Digital Aviation Research and Technology Centre (DARTeC) consortium, due to open next year at Cranfield University in the UK.

As the first airline to join the consortium, Etihad’s expertise across the fundamental fields of sustainability, operational efficiency, safety and improved passenger experience will lend valuable insight and real-world operational capability to the DARTeC initiative.  

Specific topics Etihad and DARTeC will collaborate on include:

  • Reducing aircraft emissions both in the air and on the ground
  • Creating safe, secure and efficient airspace
  • Better understanding of whole-life sustainability impacts of aircraft
  • Enhancing the passenger experience
  • Increasing the reliability and availability of aircraft

"As an innovative airline focused on the future challenges of safety, efficiency and sustainability, there is much overlap between Etihad’s aims and the research themes of DARTeC. We look forward to working together to deliver the innovation required to enable the industry to ‘build back better’ from Covid-19," said Professor Graham Braithwaite, Project Lead and Director of Transport Systems at Cranfield.

Mohammad Al Bulooki, Chief Operating Officer, Etihad Aviation Group, said: "Etihad has long been known as a leader for innovation in aviation and our role in the consortium reinforces our commitment to driving the industry forward through technology, and corporation."

"With this new partnership, we hope to bring the best ideas, approaches and projects to Etihad to ultimately ensure that our operations are cutting edge and that our guests have the best possible journey, Al Bulooki added. 

Researchers attached to DARTeC are already working with industry on projects to reimagine what airports and airlines look like post-Covid-19, and driving forward innovations in digital airspace and airport infrastructure that will help the UK reach its target of net-zero carbon emissions. 

DARTeC aims to address some of the main research challenges facing the aviation industry, including:

  • The integration of drones into civilian airspace
  • Increasing the efficiency of airports through technological advances
  • Creating safe, secure shared airspace through secure data communication infrastructures
  • Increasing the reliability and availability of aircraft utilising self-sensing/aware and self-healing/repair technologies 

Game-changing technologies such as the first operational digital air traffic control tower in the UK and next-generation radar technologies on the University’s licensed airport create a unique research and development environment. 

Etihad Airways joins Aveillant, Blue Bear Systems Research, Boeing, BOXARR, the Connected Places Catapult, Cranfield University, Inmarsat, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the IVHM Centre, Saab, the Satellite Applications Catapult and Thales in the consortium which has also received co-investment support from Research England.

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