The aerospace revolution led from the heart of Cornwall

From producing the aerostructure of PHASA-35 to highly innovative future technology, Piran Composites is revolutionizing the aerospace industry, one pseudo-satellite at a time.

Piran Composites is a Cornwall-based design engineer and manufacturing company focused on producing innovative, high quality advanced composite materials for the aerospace and defense industry. Founded in 1997, Piran first made a splash in the marine industry, supplying products, composite repairs, expert skills and manpower to the RNLI and private yachts.

Piran’s advanced composites are formulated from different materials which, when combined, add up to a greater sum than their individual components. This innovation is evident in their work with BAE Systems on the PHASA-35 unmanned solar pseudo-satellite: an aircraft that made its first maiden flight just two years after its initial design. They are now involved in the next stages of development – undertaking the production of the complete carbon fiber aerostructure.

With this innovative future technology enabling PAHs to fly at stratospheric heights of approximately 60,000 feet, Piran Composites has quickly become a leader in this exciting new innovative technology. Their rapid expansion saw them occupy a second site at the Aerohub site (Cornwall Corporate Area) at Cornwall Newquay Airport, and also contract with space communications gateway, Goonhilly Earth Station Ltd, to build antennas. Piran takes advantage of the county’s strong manufacturing scene and highly progressive space cluster.

Cornwall-based Piran Advanced Composites has now branched out into aerospace and now manufactures high-tech parts for drones. Image credit: Janna Dixon

The benefits of Piran’s move are two-fold: it allows them to scale up their aerospace operations and encourages huge investment in Cornwall’s infrastructure. They have already created 30 new jobs in the last 12 months and will not stop there. As much of the future technology available is not yet manufacturable in large volumes, Piran Composites intends to capitalize on the huge market potential, continuing to recruit to build a highly qualified team.

To accelerate their production, Piran acquired precision machinery, a five-axis CNC machine and an autoclave, which will allow them to reach new levels of manufacturing. These specialist machines mean that they are also able to give unique and skilled training to their staff in areas otherwise unavailable in Cornwall.

As the UK government aspires to make the industry more accessible, sustainable and cheaper, what’s next for Piran Composites?

Alongside their engineering and manufacturing innovations, they strive to increase their research and development output from the very heart of Cornwall, putting the UK firmly on the aerospace map. And with the UK government’s intentions clear, Piran Composites recognizes the real need to localize supply chains and build infrastructure in order to advance future technology. More and more companies are joining this movement, determined to revolutionize the way the aerospace industry works.

Mawgan Searle, Director, Piran Advanced Composites: “Being part of this growing sector in Cornwall and the UK is fantastic. When industries like the aerospace industry start to grow so quickly and you can be at the forefront, it’s really something to see. We are very lucky to have been able to obtain such specialized equipment as our 5-axis CNC machine and autoclave, as this has allowed us to increase our production tenfold. In addition to our specially designed clean rooms and from our incredibly hard working team, we are excited to see what lies ahead as we continue to grow.

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