State Co-Funds Two New R&D Programmes
French Minister of the Economy, Finance and Recovery, Bruno Le Maire, visited the Toulouse campus of Liebherr-Aerospace on 22 January as part of a tour of Southwest France in promoting the ‘France Relance’ recovery plan for the aerospace sector.
During the visit, the company presented research and technology projects being carried out in preparation for the ‘post-crisis’ era, which will also contribute towards the transformation of air transport. The common objective of all parties within the French aeronautics sector is to develop a carbon-neutral aircraft.
Liebherr-Aerospace applied for state support within the frame of two major projects: one seeks to develop a new line of products that until now had been imported, namely fluid pumps – a project requiring an overall investment of €5 million, to which the state will contribute €2.4 million. This will enable the company to extend its range of products in the area of thermal management, providing innovative solutions not only to the space, rail and road transport markets, but also to emerging markets for hydrogen and fuel cells.
This project involves two small French partners – AKIRA and 2E WINDINGS – who will work together with Liebherr. In addition, Liebherr has also made plans to manufacture these new devices on a new, fully-automated and fully-connected production line in Toulouse. From design to production, the life cycle of this new product will form a practical example of how processes and tools that form part of digital transformation exercises can be applied. The project will take just over three years to complete.
The Minister announced the second project will also receive support under the relaunch plan. This involves a focus on the development of high-speed air compressors that incorporate a unique air bearings technology. These will be used in rail transport to provide fuel cell-powered propulsion and represents an overall investment of around €4.9 million, co-funded by the state to the tune of €1.25 million. The product itself will generate zero CO2 emissions and provide an alternative for a new generation of trains. The project will be developed in collaboration with French partners 2E WINDINGS, Danielson Engineering and Centum Adeneo.
“The relaunch plan will enable us to withstand the crisis, to preserve as many skills and jobs as we can and, as our projects themselves specifically illustrate, to get our company ready for the ‘post crisis’ era; the plan will also allow us to fast-track our progress along our technology road map as we endeavour to develop products that are more environmentally friendly. Along with all industrial players in the aeronautics sector, we have taken up the challenge of developing ‘greener’ aircraft as a means of ensuring that a carbon-neutral air transport sector becomes a reality,” explained Francis Carla, Managing Director and Chief Tehcnology Officer, Liebherr Aerospace & Transportation SAS.