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Chairman's Annual Report - 23rd October 2020

The new AAU annual cycle began with the eighth annual student conference in the Central Committee Room in MacLaurin Building at the University of Hertfordshire. I am most grateful to Dr Andrew Lewis for hosting this day of AAU 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, judges Professor Mike West and Dr Arash Fallah led by Chief Judge Dr Simon prince did not find it easy to select the winners from:

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

There was a comprehensive questions and answers session at the end of each presentation. Ryan Scott Ross and Aaqib Ayub were judged joint winners with Tomos Rees and Michael MacGlashan as joint runners-up. The John Farley OBE AFC CEng prize awarded to the project deemed to contribute most to future air safety was won by Michael MacGlashan. 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.

I was unexpectedly asked to deliver an invited presentation at the Alleem Business Congress in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates on Tuesday 10 December 2019 on large airline design projects. This was the 11th Annual Leadership & Management event to be held by the organisers and I used the opportunity to promote our Association, the Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS) and the Engineering Professors’ Council (EPC) to the gathering of business executives.

This was almost immediately followed by the 14th annual International Multiphysics conference which was held Saturday 14 – Sunday 15 December 2019 in Dubai, UAE. The keynote speech entitled “Finite Element and Particle methods for Industrial Applications” was given by Professor Mhamed Souli, Mechanical Engineering at University of Lille. He addressed many issues concerning aircraft maintenance and implementation of improved structural health monitoring techniques using a combination of sensitive transducers and diagnostic algorithms.

One presentation that seemed to stand out from the rest was a paper entitled “Transient multiphase CFD simulations to improve fixture design and fluid flow in press quenching of aerospace gears” given by Dr.-Ing. Michele Vidoni from Liebherr Aerospace Lindenberg GmbH. He addressed the challenges when manufacturing carburised components such as the wing leading edge droop mechanism in the Airbus A350 XWB airliner which entered passenger service five years ago. This year’s prizes for the best presentation were awarded to two research students A A Sultan and M A A Al Shehhi. I again thoroughly enjoyed directing this conference for the fourteenth time.

I kept the EPC fully updated on all our activities on behalf of the Aerospace Sectoral Group. Contacts at the RAeS are of course included in the email distribution list. This year’s Multiphysics conference will be held Thursday 10th – Friday 11th December in the virtual environment due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and of course sponsorship of the aerospace session will continue as in the past.

This pandemic was also the cause of the cancellation of the annual Universities Seminar jointly organised with the RAeS’s Flight Simulation Group and the biennial Farnborough Air Show where our members have taken part in the Futures Day event.

It was the intention to organise our Association’s annual John Barnes Student Conference in the virtual environment immediately after this AGM and indeed, Dr Andy Lewis did indeed receive project abstracts in response to the notice that was broadcast to all members inviting submissions. Subsequent to that however, detailed discussions and inputs received from members indicated that running it in a virtual format would prove impossible as none of the arrangements were considered adequate. Hence, it was with deep regret it was decided to cancel the event. I would like to thank the chief organiser Dr Andy Lewis and all others who tried so hard to make it work in addition to apologising once again for any inconvenience caused. It was also decided to cancel the Committee meeting which usually precedes this Annual General Meeting.

Dr Simon Prince decided to stand down as the Secretary due to ever increasing work commitments and Dr Hassan Khawaja very kindly agreed to take over the role. Since all issues with the AAU web site had been resolved, it was decided to abolish the position of Communications Director. I would like to very much thank Simon for his invaluable contributions over many years and instigating the annual Student Conference in 2012. Dr Hassan Khawaja was congratulated by all present when he accepted the appointment as our new Secretary.

As always, I would like to strongly emphasise my appreciation the unreserved support I received from the members and Executives during this unprecedented period of so many major disruptions. I would especially like to thank President Professor Mike West and Vice President Dr David Philpott for their highly valued guidance, Treasurer Dr Andrew Lewis for keeping us pecuniarily solvent thanks to his excellent stewardship of our coffer, Vice Chairman Professor Moji Moatamedi and Secretary Dr Hassan Khawaja for their tireless assistance in resolving many issues. Thanks are also due to Sagar Patel for the careful audit of our financial accounts.

I feel greatly honoured and privileged to have served as your Chairman for the past fourteen years. My heartfelt thanks once again to all my colleagues from the member institutions and their students for their resilience and our continued success in the face of most adverse circumstances.

Thurai Rahulan PhD FRAeS
AAU Chairman

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