Advanced structures and composites

Advanced structures and composites

Marshall is a globally respected provider of composite materials, advanced structures and complex subsystems that meet the toughest engineering challenges across civil and military aviation applications - from airframe structures and components for uncrewed aerial vehicles to fuel tanks and refuelling probes, trim panels, helmet components, propellers, payload carrier systems and special mission radomes.

Our state-of-the-art aerostructures site in Cambridge and advanced composites facility in North Yorkshire have been awarded top supplier status by the world’s largest prime contractors, including Boeing, BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce and Lockheed Martin, for our ability to deliver on time and to the highest quality and safety standards.

Whether working from pre-defined user requirements or from a blank slate as a UK CAA Part 21J Design Organisation, few companies can match Marshall’s depth of expertise and breadth of capabilities. Our NADCAP-accredited engineering team includes structural, composites, electrical, interior, integration, systems, stress, weight, aerodynamics and avionics designers.

No matter how bespoke, complex or challenging their requirements, we take projects all the way from specification and design through to manufacturing, testing, qualification, integration and support. We are able to flexibly scale to meet project needs – whether producing a one-off prototype or thousands of units over a yearslong production run.

Thanks to our investment in facilities and emphasis on continuous improvement to our processes, we are able to adopt and apply the latest production techniques across the full spectrum of materials, spanning not only metals but a broad range of advanced composites.

Explore our end-to-end capabilities

  • Design
    • Systems design
    • Design engineering
    • Tooling design
    • CATIA programming
  • Manufacturing
    • 3D printing/additive manufacturing
    • Sheet metal fabrication
    • Milling and turning (CNC and manual)
    • Welding
    • Prepreg
    • Resin infusion
    • Filament winding
    • Laser wire printing
    • Curing
    • Trimming
    • Tool and cutter grinding
    • Chemical processing
    • Thermal processing/heat treatment
    • Painting
    • Engraving
    • Pipework
    • Composite assembly
    • Mechanical assembly
    • Electrical assembly
  • Testing
    • Model-based systems engineering (MBSE)
    • Ground/static testing (rig testing)
    • CMM and manual inspection
    • Flight testing
    • Structural analysis, including fatigue and damage tolerance
    • Flammability exposure testing
    • Factory acceptance testing
  • Qualification
    • Performance and design certification
    • Testing verification
    • Supply chain qualification
  • Integration
    • Aerodynamic integration
    • Avionic and control logic integration
    • Electrical integration
    • Line Replaceable Units (LRUs)
  • Support
    • Continued airworthiness management
    • Spares
    • Non-standard repairs
    • Technical documentation

Fuel tanks

For over four decades, Marshall has produced auxiliary fuel tanks that have been retrofitted to 10 commercial and military aircraft types across five major OEMs including Airbus, Bombardier and Boeing. We offer a safe, reliable and certified solution needed to meet range-extension requirements, today and in the future.

We have been working extensively with Boeing since 1997, initially providing auxiliary fuel tanks for commercial airliner variants such as the 747-400ER and 777-220LR Worldliner. Since 2009, we have been Boeing’s exclusive supplier of auxiliary fuel tanks for the globally successful P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, end customers for which include the United Kingdom, United states, Australia, India, New Zealand and Norway.

The auxiliary fuel tanks extend the flight range of the aircraft and allow for additional time on station. Marshall supplies the tanks in ship-sets of six, along with a number of components. With over 1,100 tanks produced to date, we have achieved an uninterrupted 100% on-time delivery record and 100% quality performance for over a decade.

The certified dual-wall aluminium honeycomb structure we use for our P-8 tanks is a cost-effective solution that maximises strength and reliability while also providing very competitive weight-to-fuel volume performance. Our tank designs offer a 15% increase in fuel volume compared to conventional bladder solutions, while also requiring less frequent maintenance.

We are constantly embedding continuous improvement into our processes and using of new materials such as composite solutions to expand the capabilities of our fuel tanks and systems.

“Marshall is one of the historic names in the UK aerospace industry and a long-term partner of Boeing, developing and delivering the latest in aviation technology right here in Cambridge, serving multiple nations around the world.”

Steve Burnell

Boeing Defence UK Managing Director

Aerial refuelling probes

Marshall has extensive experience providing fixed-mast receiver probes for aerial refuelling on a variety of civil and military aircraft types, including the Lockheed L1011 Tristar, Embraer 145, and Lockheed Martin C-130K Mk1/Mk3 and C-130J. These are simple, reliable additions to the aircraft with minimal maintenance requirements.

As the sole supplier of aerial refuelling probes for the C-130J, we carry out design, analysis and manufacturing in house, delivering completed probes - along with in-fuselage centre-wing connection kits - to Lockheed Martin’s final assembly line in Marietta. These probes are already installed on the German, Italian, Indian and Australian C-130J fleets, and can be supported on all non-US operated C-130J aircraft.

  • Aerial refuelling probe modifications we offer:
    • Refuelling MA-2 nozzle
    • Refuelling mast
    • Inner refuel line
    • Purge line
    • Mass balance installation
    • Weak link (for safety in case of separation failure)
    • Breakaway/shut-off valve
    • Metal or composite fairing manufacture and integration
    • Structural mounting and fuselage reinforcement
    • Nozzle illumination - installation of day- and night-compatible lighting
    • Flame arrestor/isolator for lightning protection
    • Fuel and moisture drainage
    • Cockpit panel modification to accommodate aerial refuelling operation
    • Avionic and control logic integration
    • In-fuselage dual-wall system installation

We can also design aerial refuelling probes to be removable, reducing drag and lowering the weight penalty when they are not needed.

Aircraft trim panels

Composite cabin trim panels offer a cost-effective means of significantly extending an aircraft’s capabilities. However, they can only be produced by experts due to their intricate, multi-part designs, complex production processes and demanding requirements in aircraft assembly and operation.

Marshall is known for our ability to design, manufacture, test, certify and integrate lightweight, robust trim panels - in fact, our panels are fitted into every single C-130J aircraft leaving Lockheed Martin’s production line in Marietta, Georgia.

“Lockheed Martin and Marshall have a long-standing relationship rooted in the Super Hercules global fleet. This contract provides us all with the opportunity to expand our pivotal partnership while supporting the worldwide C-130J operator community.”

Tom Baxter

Director of Supply Chain, Air Mobility & Maritime Missions, Lockheed Martin

We can adapt our designs and processes to meet individual customer requirements, including specific fitting techniques for aircraft variants, custom internal fixtures for lighting and speakers, and alterations for wiring looms and clips.

Produced at our specialist advanced composites facility in North Yorkshire, the panels we deliver to Lockheed Martin are fabricated from fire-retardant phenolic glass fibre prepreg with a honeycomb sandwich core, and are supplied in kits of either 14 or 18 panels in various sizes.

UAV structures and components

The production of produced airframe structures and vehicles is an area of enduring expertise for our advanced composites facility in North Yorkshire.

Following the production of unmanned vehicles including CORAX, RAVEN and MANTIS, we co-developed the HERTI UAV with BAE Systems as a multi-purpose UAV. An established structure from a previous design, this was re-engineered to double the all up weight. Producing a mock up in less than 2 months, the engineering activity was focused initially on reverse engineering an established OML to accommodate the systems and sensors required by an Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) capable UAV.

Working closely with BAE Systems throughout the design process allowed production of composite structures and mechanical systems which produced a vehicle able to be flight demonstrated 18 months from contract award.

Learn more about our involvement in the HERTI UAV project.

Through-life support

We meet our through-life commitments with a Continued Airworthiness Management Programme that provides the evidence needed to underwrite safe operation throughout the life of a component or structure.

We have the experience and capability to produce, procure and test spares at both platform and system level, drawing on our in-house production expertise and mature global supply chain.

We can undertake all aspects of component repair and refurbishment, with all repairs designed to maintain airworthiness and structural integrity while reducing fatigue.

Supply chain management

We manage the global supply chain for our advanced structures and composites, leveraging our long-term relationships with equipment and material OEMs to provide the required expertise at the right time in the right place.

Our supply chain processes are audited to AS9100 standard and our extensive knowledge of export regulations, including ITAR, helps ensure we maintain a compliant, sustainable and socially responsible procurement process.

We offer extensive warehouse and distribution services, with our warehouse team undertaking all goods receipts, inspection, storage and handling of parts, including dangerous goods.

Continuous improvement

To find and develop the next generation of talent, our advanced composites team is investing in record levels of R&D spend, harnessing the expertise of Sharing in Growth (SiG) and subject matter experts to embed best practices and ensure the continued development of our people.

Across our business we are providing consistent upskilling on new manufacturing techniques and technologies, design software, inspection and various testing capabilities. In parallel, we have an ongoing R&D programme to develop new capabilities and skills to prepare ourselves for future requirements.

Skills and training

We are proud of our award-winning apprenticeship scheme that has enabled more than 21,000 people to launch their careers over the years, and are committed to leading the industry in addressing the severe global skills shortage.

Building on the strength of our reputation in this area, Marshall delivers apprenticeships for businesses across the aviation and engineering sectors as well as in-house for our own operations. In addition to apprenticeships, we provide a comprehensive range of technical, regulatory and health and safety training programmes to the civil and military aviation industry.

To learn more about our skills and training offering, click here.

Case studies