With the UK having the second largest aerospace industry in the world and a sector spend of £1.4 billion in 2012, UK companies are leading innovation in areas such as engine maintenance and structural technology using nanotechnology. The global demand for passenger aircraft is ever increasing and there are exciting new opportunities for space travel, making this a sector brimming with R&D. A new aircraft development typically takes between 10 – 15 years and involves multiple partners across the supply chain working on a multi-phased programme. This provides opportunities across the supply chain to apply for R&D tax relief – from OEM’s developing the fuel-efficient engines of the future to Tier 2 suppliers developing new composite materials to improve performance within them. In addition to commercial aerospace, defence is still a major part of the sector and here cutting edge technology is also being applied.

Examples of eligible R&D activities:

  • Extending knowledge of new composite materials to replace parts to both extend life and minimise weight;
  • Developing new aircraft and related equipment;
  • Developing manufacturing processes to increase capacity, whilst reducing costs;
  • Reducing the weight of in-flight equipment to achieve an appreciable improvement in performance;
  • Developing digital systems to replace legacy analogue systems;
  • Integrating available equipment on new platforms;
  • Duplicating material development process from the automotive industry to provide light-weight requirements of space travel;
  • Developing test rigs to resolve technological uncertainty for space travel.