The Digital Aviation Research and Technology Centre (DARTeC)
With over 50 years’ experience, our teaching and research expertise covers technology, engineering and management across all modes of transport, including sustainable transport and intelligent mobility.
“The partnerships and the fact that Cranfield is very tight knit with industry separates it from the crowd.”
Senior Vice President, Customer Experience, Brand Communications, Flydubai, (Air Transport Management MSc 1997 and Executive MBA 2006)
The new Digital Aviation Research and Technology Centre (DARTeC)
First in the UK
We ran the first air transport management postgraduate degree in the UK.
(Figures from 1964)
Over two-thirds of our Transport Systems learners come from outside the UK, representing 66 nationalities.
(Figures from July 2023)
Research in action
Next generation 'conscious' aircraft
Maintenance is estimated to make up 10% of airline costs. The projected spend for 2030 is anticipated to be US$115 billion. Unscheduled maintenance – where there are surprises, due to such sources as component premature failure – is a major issue with operating cost due to both delays and cancellations. Minimizing the time aircraft are on the ground for maintenance reduces costs, delays and risks from collision damage.
The Conscious Aircraft principle uses sensing, advanced AI algorithms and communication technologies to increase awareness that removes risk and unnecessary costs: avoiding problems caused by component degradation, unforeseen technical failures and human error. Application of this information could lead to up to 30% less in maintenance costs.
The Integrated Vehicle Health Management (IVHM) Centre is a collaboration between Cranfield University and Boeing, with other core partners including BAE Systems and Thales. Research by the IVHM suggests the Conscious Aircraft is becoming a reality.
The recently opened Digital Aviation Research and Technology Centre (DARTeC) at Cranfield includes a full-scale hangar laboratory housing Cranfield’s 737-400 research aircraft and the provision for aircraft inspection using drones, along with a high-level instrumentation rail to allow camera and other sensors to scan the external surfaces of aircraft for damage.
“At Cranfield I had to engage with my fellow students in engineering group projects. That helped me improve my skills in project management, effective communication and working in a team in a fast-paced environment which is crucial for the industry I am working in.”
Cost Engineer, Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team,
(Advanced Motorsport Engineering MSc 2021)
Research in action
New generation batteries
Cranfield research is helping to develop a new generation of battery technologies needed for a future of sustainable electric transport. The work on lithium-sulfur batteries is part of a major new £29 million UK research programme into energy storage funded by The Faraday Institution. The two-year project is a collaboration with University College London, University of Cambridge, Coventry University, University of Birmingham, Imperial College London, University of Nottingham, University of Oxford, University of Southampton, University of Surrey, Aerospace Technology Institute, National Physical Laboratory and five industry partners.
Lithium-sulfur batteries have a number of potential advantages over existing lithium-ion battery technology. Availability of lithium-sulfur batteries will mean a lighter option for vehicles: important for electrification of short-haul aircraft and light goods vehicles in particular. A cheaper technology for industry and consumers, the constituent elements of lithium-sulfur batteries mean less dependence on scarce minerals.
Facilities for research and teaching
We operate a range of unique ‘at-scale’ facilities including the:
- Digital Aviation Research and Technology Centre: Part of a £67 million project which includes a digital air traffic control centre; passenger experience laboratory; maintenance, repair and overhaul laboratory; Boeing 737 ground demonstrator aircraft; and air traffic management laboratory.
- National Flying Laboratory Centre: Our award-winning flying classrooms and laboratories offer an amazing learning experience and support innovative research.
- Advanced Vehicle Engineering Centre: Which includes an off-road vehicle dynamics facility; instrumented autonomous vehicle test track; vehicle workshops; and electrification, autonomy, simulation, mechatronics and control systems laboratories.
- Cranfield Impact Centre: One of just two FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile) approved test centres in the world, crash testing Formula One vehicles and impact testing restraint systems and seats.
- Accident investigation laboratory: A unique hands-on teaching facility for working with wreckage and evidence from rail, marine and aircraft accidents.
- Engineering photonics and integrated vehicle health management laboratories for the development and use of advanced sensor technologies.
Cranfield Impact Centre crash testing facility