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Chairman's Annual Report - 18th October 2019

The new AAU annual cycle began with the seventh annual student conference in the IDEAS Suite at the Aerospace Integration Research Centre at Cranfield University. I am most grateful to Dr Simon Prince for hosting this day of Odyssey and making available excellent facilities for the events. As always, since all the presentations were of a very high standard covering a broad spectrum of aerospace subject areas, the three judges President Dr Mike West, Vice President Dr David Philpott and Communications Director Dr Hassan Khawaja did not find it easy to select the winners from:

Aekim Garcia (Hertfordshire) - Spacecraft Emergency Escape Systems

Samuel Wood (West of England) - Analysis of Jet Ejector Performance using Response Surface Optimisation Methodology

James Wakefield (Bristol) - Coupled Flight Mechanics based on a Reduced Order Model of Unsteady Vortex Lattice Code for Tiltrotor Analysis

Robert Elliott (Cardiff) - Mode Jumping in Stiffened Panels

There was a question and answer session at the end of each presentation and James Wakefield was judged the overall winner with Robert Elliott and Aekim Garcia as runners-up. The John Farley OBE AFC CEng prize awarded to the project deemed to contribute most to future air safety was won by Aekim Garcia. In addition to the prize monies, each student participant received a certificate and cash at a flat rate to assist with the travel expenses. It was yet again a most enjoyable way to start the new academic session.

The last activity consisted of an enthralling tour of the Air Traffic Management Laboratory where new methods are being pioneered and the test room downstairs where the use of a laser based four-core fibre-optic system was demonstrated to measure linear and angular elastic deflections of a helicopter rotor blade. There were two A320 test wings in the Open Laboratory with a floor space of 1500 square metres, one for use by Airbus and the other, by Rolls-Royce. The aim of one study is to obtain data on engine pylon deflection patterns under flight load conditions. That was the first time I was able to get a close and detailed look at how the wing is attached to the centre fuselage box.

As in the past, our Association was one of the sponsors of the annual International Multiphysics conference which was held on Thursday 13th – Friday 14th Dec 2018 in Krakow, Poland. The keynote speech entitled “Health Monitoring implementation to aerial platforms for structural integrity monitoring - need or necessity?” was given by Colonel Krzysztof Dragan PhD Eng DSc who is the Head of the Airworthiness Division at the Air Force Institute of Technology in Warsaw. He addressed many issues concerning aircraft maintenance and implementation of improved structural health monitoring techniques using a combination of sensitive transducers and diagnostic algorithms. I again thoroughly enjoyed directing this conference for the thirteenth time. Our Association will again proudly sponsor the aerospace session at this year’s conference which will be held Saturday 14th – Sunday 15th December in Dubai, UAE.

I kept members of the Executive Board of the Engineering Professors’ Council (EPC) fully updated on all our activities on behalf of the Aerospace Sectoral Group. Amongst a number of events being organised, a Recruitment and Admissions Forum is being arranged to be held on 27 November at Swansea, a two-day Retreat in late January in Bristol and the annual Congress in early April in Sheffield.

After the usual Committee meeting and the lunch sponsored by our Association in George Begg Building at the University of Manchester on Tuesday 16 April, Chief Host Dr Nicholas Bojdo opened the annual Universities Seminar with a general introduction and a safety briefing. This is a joint event with the Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS) and Flight Simulation Group (FSG) Committee member Barry Tomlinson welcomed the audience. An overview of the Group’s activities by Business Manager and 2019 Chair-Elect of the FSG Committee John Cook was followed by fellow Committee member Neil Sears from Thales who listed the family of land products that are coming onstream. The proportional cost of data packs continues to increase especially for military and wide-bodied aircraft. Projects such as the Anglo-French uninhabited air systems, Franco-German future combat air systems and Tempest will add additional costs to the generation of data packs. Improvements in desktop computer-based classroom approaches using new methods will enhance procedural training, avoid life-threatening events such as G-LOC encounters and studies of weapons/tactical/mission studies by creating more realistic synthetic environments and reduce flying hours. The level of virtualisation can be expanded using cloud-computing networks and the application extended to cars, air taxis and naval scenarios such as surface, sub-surface, mine detection and submarine hunting.

Becky Maugham, Bradie Payter, Daniel Newton-Young and Michael Hughes from Liverpool University gave a presentation on a bigger and better exercise compared to the previous academic year. Michael Hughes then explained the technical aspects of flying from New York La Guardia to Los Angeles International over 42 legs in 36 hours in a Jetstream 41 simulator flown by line pilots and volunteers. In all, £1400 was raised for the North West Air Ambulance bringing the total contribution to £3,400. A Boeing 737 engineering simulator is being developed as a flightdeck assessment rig to inspire the next generation. Daniel Newton-Young concluded this part by listing some dissertation projects such as control loadings (generation of stick & rudder forces), head-up displays and virtual reality. Leap motion technology which maps the position of one’s hands using cameras on goggles can negate the need for haptic gloves used in virtual reality environments.

Dr Nicholas Bojdo and Matthew Uren from Manchester University gave an overview about their six-axis hydraulic, two-axis electric and two static simulators which are mainly used by third year aerospace students to conduct drag polar studies. A handbook has been produced to aid students using Microsoft Excel to build aircraft sizing models. The students gain experience in design and testing handling qualities using the simulator, team working, critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Project Phoenix involves the development of a Hawk simulator from BAE Systems to build a military cockpit from basic equipment.

Professor George Barakos from Glasgow University spoke about the new £400,000 six-degree-of-freedom helicopter simulator (housed inside a four-metre diameter fibreglass dome) to study the potential influence of high-fidelity, real time aerodynamics (based on computational fluid dynamic modelling of complex flow fields) on aircraft flight simulation. The focus will be on wake encounters (especially from wind turbines) and brownout conditions. The acquisition process took 12 months of solid effort. The 1,500 kg facility uses electric actuators and hence the maintenance costs will be low. The usage is predicted at 1250 flight-hours per year and the maximum acceleration level is 0.5g in the surge, sway and heave directions. 100 Hz data updates will enable detailed account of turbulent flow effects. A laser device is used to measure the distance to the floor and monitor loads on the building structure. The two-seat cockpit is equipped with realistic symbology and appropriate buttons/switches/selectors. A total of 280 states are read at each sampling interval. The cyclic is rated at a maximum moment of 1000 Nm at up to 20-degree deflection in any direction and the maximum force on the rudder pedal is 900 N. The dome is coated with three layers of opaque paint and the audio system is highly directional to minimise echo. The calibration of the acoustic characteristics will be conducted shortly. The field of view of the three-channel side-by-side visual system at 95 degree horizontal each, gives a total of 285 degrees with the vertical range at 80 degrees. The Bell 412 and the AgustaWestland AW189 helicopters will be modelled first in the simulator.

Dr Mike Clee from Swansea University explained how the three Merlin engineering simulators have accumulated 16,062 hours with 2,727 student assessments conducted. The teaching activities consist of a simulated and real time flight experience in a Cessna 172 based at Swansea airport for the Level 4 students, the repeat of the flight test course in the simulator for the Level 5 students, and, designing a fixed-wing aircraft for the annual ‘It Flies’ competition organised by the Merlin Flight Simulation Group. This has led to examining alternate fuels, wing tip devices, variation in flight methods, psychological effects of three-dimensional images and development of equivalent virtual reality suites. One project investigated the handling qualities of a pilot wearing a wingsuit!

Dr Andrea Da Ronch from the Faculty of Engineering & Physical Sciences at the University of Southampton gave a brief description of the fixed-base, fixed-wing simulator facility with the visuals projected onto three walls in addition to two Martin Baker ejection seats from a Harrier T4 aircraft. Starting with an introduction to aircraft operations and flight mechanics along with methods of aircraft control, all students conduct an individual project study in the third year of the degree programme and take part in group design work in year four. The Bolderwood Innovation Campus funded by Boeing is equipped with four workstations featuring 180 x 40 degree visual display, three touch-screens and three front projectors coupled to X-Plane 11flight simulator. Funding was obtained for a PhD studentship joint with Office National d'Etudes et de Recherches Aérospatiales (ONERA), France.

Dr Vilius Portapas from Lithuania is a lecturer in Aerospace Systems at the University of the West of England. He concentrated on controls loading and tuning of motion cues.

The presentations scheduled for the eighth annual student conference this afternoon are:

Tomos Rees (Cardiff University) - Acousto-Ultrasonic Monitoring: Effect of Waveform on Damage Detection.

Michael MacGlashan (Salford University) - Flight Envelope Testing and Modification for a V-Tail Unmanned Aircraft

Ryan Scott Ross (Glasgow University) - Aerodynamic Considerations for Spherically-Blunted Cone Capsules in Hypersonic Flow

Aaqib Ayub (University of Hertfordshire) - Characterisation of Microstructure and Mechanical Properties of Heat Treated Ti575 at Different Cooling Rates

As always, I would like to emphasise that none of this would have been possible had it not been for the unlimited support I received from the members and the Executives. I would especially like to thank President Professor Mike West and Vice President Dr David Philpott for their much valued guidance & wisdom, Treasurer Dr Andrew Lewis for keeping us pecuniarily solvent thanks to his excellent stewardship of our coffer in addition to organising the now-established annual student conference, Vice Chairman Professor Moji Moatamedi and our Communications Director Dr Hassan Khawaja for their enormous help in maintaining our web site amongst other activities, and Secretary Dr Simon Prince. Thanks are also due to Professor Carol Featherston for the careful audit of our financial accounts earlier today.

I feel greatly honoured and privileged to have served as your Chairman for the past thirteen years. My heartfelt thanks once again to all my colleagues from the member institutions and their students for our continued success.

Thurai Rahulan PhD FRAeS
AAU Chairman

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2017 AAU Competition Winner

The AAU 2019 Student Conference Speakers from left to right: Michael MacGlashan (University of Salford), Tomos Rees (Cardiff University), AAU Chairman Dr Thurai Rahulan, Aaqib Ayub (University of Hertfordshire) and Ryan Scott Ross (University of Glasgow)

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