Edinburgh’s apprentices offer ambitious vision for a sustainable aerospace industry

Apprentices working at aerospace engineering company Leonardo have created a ground-breaking sustainable business concept as their entry to a nationwide challenge.

Thursday, 4th March 2021, 12:30 pm
Leonardo design engineering graduate apprentice Ross Pringle

Leonardo’s design engineering graduate apprentices have submitted their idea to the Fuel Change Challenge, sponsored by Skills Development Scotland and the Scottish Funding Council.

The yearly challenge invites apprentices across the country to come up with workable business concepts, to reduce carbon emissions and increase sustainable business opportunities.

The apprentices are proposing that the aircraft graveyards of the past are replaced with a dynamic hub of new activity, where parts from decommissioned aircraft are reused and recycled.

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Parts can be reintroduced back into the aviation industry, or repurposed to create office furniture, office pods, house furniture, clothing and artwork to create financially viable industry streams to boost the Scottish economy.

Graduate Apprentice Ross Pringle, based at Leonardo’s Crewe Toll centre, said: “To allow end-of-life aircraft parts to be recycled or reused could contribute to the reduced carbon footprint of this industry worldwide.

“We wanted to develop ideas that will benefit Scotland and boost our economy and impact on how the world looks at the aerospace industry.

“It also means giving the wider supply chain and smaller SMEs the chance to adopt a financially viable business concept.

“I think we’ve all grown through this challenge, as it has asked us to look more closely at the issues of carbon footprint reduction and sustainability.

"One of the great things we found was all those we approached for their expertise were not only open to our ideas, they were very supportive of them.”

Over the course of their research, the team referred to the work of the Scottish government’s Aerospace Response Group (ARG), which has highlighted that around 1,000 aircraft are decommissioned each year, yet current capacity can only cope with around 40 per cent of this volume.

Although their concept is a competition submission, Leonardo’s graduate apprentices believe it could have potential to be rolled out as a viable business concept.

David Reid, Programme Director at Fuel Change, said: “Leonardo engineering graduate apprentices typify the enthusiasm, creativity and ingenuity that has been evident in the first ever Fuel Change Challenge. We wish them well on the night at the online showcase.”

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