Aerospace City takes off in Turin

The cornerstone has been laid in Turin for Aerospace City, a major urban and industrial redevelopment project dedicated entirely to the world of Aeronautics and Space that will involve major industry players, small and medium-sized enterprises, start-ups, and the world of academia, research and education. A strategic centre of excellence for the sector’s development and international competitiveness, in which Leonardo plays a key role right from the start by setting up joint technological laboratories - key elements of the new “City” - alongside the Polytechnic of Turin.

In Corso Ferrucci 122, Turin, on the wall of what used to be Aristide Faccioli’s Società Piemontese Automobili (SPA), there is now a plaque recalling the first flight of an Italian motor-powered aircraft over the fields of the Venaria Reale, the former royal hunting lodge of the House of Savoy (though some claim the event actually took place at Mirafiori). It was the year 1909, and the aircraft was the Faccioli triplane no. 1, the first entirely Italian-made airplane, making Italy a pioneer in the adventure of human flight, only a few years after the Wright Brothers’ famous exploits.

This first, very brief flight by Aristide Faccioli marked the beginning of an industrial tradition that has seen a growing concentration of “progenitors” of today’s Italian aeronautical and space industry in Piedmont, with a supply chain of outstanding excellence generating revenues of approximately 8 billion euro annually and employing about 35,000 people in the region. Some of the companies involved – such as Ansaldo Aviazione or FIAT Aviazione and Spazio – have since become a part of the industrial heritage of Leonardo, which now operates in the area alongside other players in the sector such as Avio, Altec and Thales Alenia Space.

Where else could Aerospace City be built, if not in this historically fertile location for the development of the sector: particularly in Corso Marche, a historic Leonardo site and former home of Alenia Aeronautica. This complex plan has been divided into several phases, involving not only the conversion of former production plants into facilities for research and innovation, but also wider-ranging projects benefitting the entire community.

Aerospace City will be an ecosystem enabling new technologies: a place in which the technological and industrial excellence of the large-scale companies operating in the area combines with the world of academia and training, represented by the Polytechnic of Turin, University of Turin, and ITS Aerospazio e Meccatronica (Advanced Aerospace and Mechatronic Technical Institute), working in close contact with SMEs, start-ups, the world of applied research, and teams of university students.

Starting with building 37, a space measuring more than 10,000 square metres containing joint laboratories for research and development in innovative technologies. This will be followed by the creation of a “Home for SMEs”, a functional infrastructure measuring 16,000 square metres for incubators, SMEs, and start-ups.

Building 37 - conceptual image

This integrated centre of excellence will offer a multitude of benefits for the local economy and the area’s competitiveness. Leonardo’s strong ties with the academic world in Piedmont will establish a solid bond between educational initiatives and monitoring strategic technological trends. Moreover, leveraging the area’s distinctive know-how, research will be directed towards the most innovative areas, helping reinforce the value of the national and international supply chain, and creating more highly qualified jobs. 

The first joint laboratories will focus on four areas of strategic interest for Leonardo:

  • architectures and systems for hybrid/electric propulsion, generation, distribution, and application of electricity on board aircraft in aeronautics;
  • development of autonomous airborne systems capable of operating without the constant control of a human operator and interacting safely in an environment populated by both crewed and uncrewed aircraft;
  • monitoring and auxiliary systems for pilots operating in critical environmental situations and in the presence of a psychologically and physically stressful workload;
  • big data analysis systems for assessing the health of individual aircraft and entire fleets, permitting prevention or early identification of faults and optimisation of maintenance work.