Spirit Aero's Belfast staff to help design new vertical take-off aircraft

Skyworks Aeronautics visual of a gyrodyne concept.
Skyworks Aeronautics visual of a gyrodyne concept.

SPIRIT AeroSystems’ Belfast-based operation will work on a project to design a new vertical take-off aircraft.

The US-owned group has signed a memorandum of understanding with Utah-based Skyworks Aeronautics, which will see Spirit Aero teams in Northern Ireland and Scotland collaborate on the design of the Skyworks VertiJet, a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) craft.

In its announcement, Spirit Aero said the craft will be a “high-speed and long-range gyrodyne”.

A gyrodyne typically uses a helicopter-like rotor system to ascend, and jet engines to achieve high thrust speeds.

“This platform is capable of flying at projected speeds of up to 400 mph – two to three times faster than current operating helicopters,” said Spirit.

Sir Michael Ryan, Spirit’s Belfast-based vice president for European space and defence, said the agreement reflects the group’s commitment to grow its UK business.

“We will be applying our engineering and technology leadership in advanced materials and ultra-light structures to explore the design, testing and integration of lightweight and aerodynamically efficient technologies in support of Skyworks’ aircraft platforms, such as its VertiJet VTOL program for military and commercial use,” he said.