Dowty Propellers recently opened a new facility in Brockworth, England to provide a modern operation for the company's development, manufacture and support of state-of-the-art propeller systems with all-composite blades.
Located just outside Gloucester at Brockworth's Gloucester Business Park, this 183,000-sq. ft. building brings together Dowty Propellers' primary resources at one site: from the full production process for its propeller systems to the company's administrative offices, design and engineering teams, as well as the Dowty Propellers Repair and Overhaul (DPRO) center - the U.K. arm of Dowty Propellers' global support network. It will incorporate technologies for the high-quality production, control, repair and in-service support of the company's propeller systems, which are used on turboprop and turboshaft engines powering regional airliners and military airlifters, along with amphibious aircraft and marine hovercraft.
The Brockworth facility replaces Dowty Propellers' original headquarters and blade manufacturing facility in Gloucester that was destroyed by fire in February 2015. To enable the continuation of operations, the company purchased new production equipment and created an interim blade manufacturing facility in the Gloucestershire area at Mitcheldean. This equipment is now being transferred from Mitcheldean into the new building at Brockworth, which is to become fully operational in the first half of 2020.
Additionally, the U.K. DPRO center - which previously had operated at a separate location in Gloucester - will now be integrated into the new Brockworth facility, providing additional synergy with the company's design engineers, production specialists and support teams. There also are DPRO centers in Sterling, Virginia, U.S.A., and Brisbane, Australia, as well as a team of field service engineers that are deployed around the world for field repairs.
Dowty Propellers' post-fire recovery efforts ensured that the supply and support of propeller blades and their related control systems continued unabated. This enabled airframers to maintain the production line cadence for new-build airplanes, while airlines and military operators kept their aircraft fleets flying - including Lockheed Martin's C130J Super Hercules airlifters and De Havilland Aircraft of Canada's Dash 8-400 regional airliners.
As a business of GE Aviation, Dowty Propellers benefited from its parent company's resources in the post-fire recovery efforts. Within hours of the February 2015 fire, core Dowty Propellers teams had been relocated a few kilometers away to GE Aviation offices in Bishops Cleeve, Cheltenham, where they were provided with telephones, computers and system connectivity. This enabled the preparation of a reset plan that focused on three elements: keeping the Dowty Propellers-equipped aircraft fleets flying with customers and operators; rapidly re-establishing the composite propeller blade production capability; and retaining the company's ranks of skilled employees. The reset plan was successfully carried out as defined immediately after the fire, with Dowty Propellers meeting its milestones during the four years that followed - including the timing for today's new facility inauguration ceremony.