Leonardo extends strategic partnership with aviation services SME 2Excel for another five years

07 December 2021

The agile flight trial services provided by 2Excel allow Leonardo to accelerate research and development work and introduce new capabilities onto the market faster

Leonardo has signed a five-year strategic partnership contract with the UK-based 2Excel Aviation relating to flight trials services, following the successful conclusion of a previous contract that ran from 2017-2021. That contract saw Leonardo working with 2Excel to test and demonstrate how its radar and electronic warfare systems perform in flight in support of development work and customer demonstrations. 

Over the years, the relationship between Leonardo and 2Excel has become closer, with Leonardo regularly making use of 2Excel’s ability to ‘turn concepts into capabilities – fast’ to accelerate the development of its own advanced electronics systems, allowing Leonardo to secure a competitive edge by bringing capabilities to market more quickly. 

An example of this approach in action is the trials work for Leonardo’s Osprey 50 E-scan surveillance radar. 2Excel was able to fit the new radar to a B200 King Air test aircraft and certify it for flight exceptionally quickly, allowing Leonardo to accelerate the radar’s development cycle and demonstrate its in-flight performance to potential customers. Leonardo has subsequently sold the Osprey 50 radar to a number of international customers.

The renewed contract will see a dedicated 2Excel project support and trials planning team working alongside Leonardo’s trials department, providing support for rapid concept to capability through design, manufacture, install, certification and operation. 2Excel will also invest further in its flight test bed aircraft to meet Leonardo requirements. 

The relationship with 2Excel is representative of Leonardo’s UK-wide supply chain of 2,100 companies, two thirds of which are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). More than a quarter (28%) of all Leonardo supply chain spending is spent directly with these SMEs, with the economic activity generated by Leonardo’s UK-based operations supporting a total 26,600 jobs around the country.

In addition to its flight trials partnership, Leonardo has placed a series of contracts with 2Excel to prepare for the Tempest flight test aircraft (FTA) programme. This will see the partners completely overhaul a commercial airliner, turning it into a flying laboratory for combat air technology named ‘Excalibur’. Excalibur will provide the real-world environment necessary for the latter stages of development of the complex, integrated sensors, non-kinetic effects and communications Leonardo is leading for Tempest, the Future Combat Air System that the UK and its international partners are developing to fly into service in 2035.