European aircraft manufacturer Airbus will receive £12m of combined UK government and industry funding for a new project to develop “new aircraft wing technology”.

The XWING BETA project will be based at Airbus Filton, near Bristol and will aim to upskill technicians and engineers, as well as apprentices across a range of roles. 

XWING will focus on developing longer wings for existing and future aircraft, which will allow for quicker take-offs using less fuel and therefore creating fewer emissions. Folding wings will also be explored, so current airport infrastructure is not affected by planes with larger wingspans. 

UK Industry Minister Nus Ghani opened the new Wing Technology Development Centre at the Airbus site, which will deliver the XWING project via the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) Programme. 

“We’re backing our aerospace sector to soar and projects like these are helping drive forward our goal of net zero air travel by 2050 and securing high-wage, high-skill jobs across the country in the process,” Ghani said, speaking on 4 July at the Airbus site. 2,700 people are currently employed in Filton. 

The announced funding is part of the London government’s joint commitment with the industry to invest in new aircraft and manufacturing technologies set to help secure at least £20bn of further private investment in the UK aerospace sector and support over 100,000 jobs across the country.

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The Department for Business and Trade is already funding the ATI to the tune of £685m.