1. Technology Demonstrators are physical
or virtual (computer-based) entities, simulating systems or subsystems.
They are used throughout industry and universities not only to
demonstrate and validate, in a practical environment, promising
technology that has emerged from the laboratory, but also to test
the integration process of several technologies into one system.
It is this technology integration process that is often the most
problematic and risky part of the product development; therefore,
Demonstrators are a critical part of the risk-reduction process
in taking base technologies through to products. Table 1 shows
how, in the R&D process, Demonstrators form a bridge between
generic research and product-specific development, where promising
technologies are tested for use in a specific product.
2. Only technologies that have a reasonable
chance of maturation are subject to Technology Demonstration.
In this respect, Demonstrators have a commercial focus on the
technologies' end use. They should not be confused with prototypes,
which are designed to be working versions of the final product
and form part of the subsequent development process.
3. Technology Demonstrators are a vital
bridge in translating research into industrial products. They
therefore help to minimise technical and financial risk, and reduce
time to market. Some earlier costed examples are listed below
at Table 2, together with their benefits.
4. The use of unproven technologies can
easily lead to high costs and delays during development and during
the product's lifetimeeven to cancellation or product failure.
Demonstration in the R&D cycle is a proven method of reducing
the risks and reducing the need for costly prototyping further
into development. The National Audit Office reported that the
cost/benefit ration of Demonstrators for defence programmes was
It is estimated that the £190 million investment
in the Experimental Aircraft Programme Technology Demonstrator
saved the Industry and Government £850 million in development
costs for the resulting Eurofighter and shortened the development
time by one year. Similarly, the XG40 Demonstrator for Eurofighter's
EJ200 engine cost £135 million but saved £650 million
from the development programme. Demonstrators may sometimes appear
expensive, but are in fact a fraction of the total development
costtypically less than 10 per cent.
5. Demonstrators are also a powerful marketing
tool; they directly enhance the commercial prospects of an emerging
product by providing clear and measurable information on its viability
to investors and potential customers. Potential products are more
likely to attract development funds and reach the market if Demonstrators
have been involved.
SOME EXAMPLES OF TECHNOLOGY DEMONSTRATOR
|Jaguar Carbon Fibre Wing (1976-82)||£30 million
||The first Carbon Fibre Wing manufactured in the world;
|Development of design and manufacturing methods, process, standards and Qualification still used today.
|The structure was tested to failure to enable the validation of design calculations and complex structural properties.
|Fully Co-bonded Structural Front Fuselage (1977-82)
||£5 million||Further development UK skills, techniques and experience in building large CFC structures.
|Gaining knowledge on the effect of CFC structures to aircraft electrical systems, spearheading R&D work in the electrical/electromagnetic implications of CFC.
|Enabled advanced facilities to be built enhancing BAE SYSTEMS's capability in CFC manufacture and positioning the UK as a major world player.
|Jaguar Fly By wire (FBW) (1977-84)||£13 million
||Research in to Active Control Technology.
|Enabler to certification of Digital Flight Control Systems (FCS).
|Drove increased capability on EMC testing in the UK and the first lightning strike on an operation aircraft which continued flying post testing.
|Experimental Aircraft Programme (EAP) (1983-92)
||£185 million||Reduced Risk of Quadraplex FCS for Delta wing/Canard Configuration.
|Expanded knowledge and capability of agile highly unstable fast jet configurations.
|Encompassed and flight tested new materials (eg Aluminium Lithium and CFC Honeycomb) with a large weight saving.
|Development of CFC Wing and Foreplane (learning from experiences with JAS wing).
|Proved ability to demonstrate complete aircraft systems at low cost and at short timescales.
|1st Glass Cockpit on UK aircraft.
6. Despite the proven cost-effectiveness of Technology
Demonstrator programmes in recent years there has been a steady
decline in associated UK Government funding; for example, in the
last 13 years Government investment in experimental research,
which includes Technology Demonstration, has fallen by 46 per
cent. This was brought into sharper focus by the National Audit
Office, which pointed out that reduced funding for demonstration
programmes was partially responsible for cost increases and delays
to Government projects. Additionally, the HoC Science and Technology
Select Committee recently recommended that the Government should
assume a greater role in supporting development and Technology
Demonstration where the risks are high, but are outweighed by
the potential rewards if the projects are successful. The Committee
also recommended that the Government should support the development
of large-scale demonstration facilities to provide UK companies
with a better means of carrying out "proof of concept"
7. Examples of the Technology Demonstrator programmes,
which the aerospace industry believes are of high priority, in
terms of maintaining or improving its competitive position worldwide,
are outlined at Appendix 1. The industry would welcome discussions
with Government officials on how these and other programmes can