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Chairman's Annual Report - 22nd October 2021

Due to serious concerns over the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the previous Annual General Meeting (AGM) was held in the virtual environment for the very first time and although it was the intention to organise our Association’s annual John Barnes Student Conference immediately after, detailed discussions with and inputs received from members defeated all attempts as none of the arrangements proved workable. Hence, it was with deep regret, it was decided to cancel this event for 2020. 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 to all members for any inconvenience caused.

The 15th Annual Multiphysics conference (Thursday 10th – Friday 11th December 2020) was also held in the virtual environment and our Association sponsored the Aerospace Session at zero cost as in the past. I was given the great honour yet again of directing this conference since its inception. Thanks to excellent planning by Dr Hassan Khawaja (Al Ghurair University, Dubai) and Prof Dr Gernot Boiger (Zurich University of Applied Sciences, Winterthur) to cater for all likely failings in cyber space, all internet problems that were encountered, were quickly and effectively dealt with to ensure a smooth running of the event from start to finish.

An unusual subject that was addressed by authors M Azeem, R Varatharajoo and S Ahmad concerned “Aerodynamic Drag and Gravity Gradient Coupled Satellite Stabilization Envelopes”. The aerodynamic drag experienced by a satellite at altitudes less than 500 km is not always negligible, and if nadir-pointing requirements are specified, three-axis attitude stabilization will be needed. Hence it should be possible to install control surfaces to generate minute amounts of aerodynamic torque and use that in conjunction with gravity gradient to reduce consumption of fuel & oxidant allocated for attitude manoeuvring thereby extending the life of the satellite.

The keynote address on Noise Engineering and Audio Simulations was given by Dr Alfred J Svobodnik from Mvoid Group. He focussed on the multiphysical engineering analysis such as auralisation, sound tuning, digital signal processing, psychoacoustics, subjective evaluation and industrial design. The first airliner that featured active noise cancellation was the DHC Dash 8 Q-series models.

This year’s International Multiphysics Conference will be held Thursday 9th – Friday 10th December 2021 in the virtual environment as well including continuation of the sponsorship of the aerospace session at zero financial cost to our Association. This conference as always will provide a forum for all scientists to share and explore the latest research outputs on theoretical advances, numerical modelling and experimental validation of complex physical systems. The keynote address will be given by Dr Hassan Khawaja who is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Engineering Science and Technology at The Arctic University of Norway in Tromsø. There is no registration fee for any of the delegates and all presenting authors who submit full-length papers for publication in The International Journal of Multiphysics will be entitled to a discounted Article Processing Charge (APC) of £300.

The first joint event to mark the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS) and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) will be a Drag Prediction Workshop for transonic flow. There is a web site hosted by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for downloading the test geometries as either CAD or mesh files. All are welcome to contribute and this exercise will run until June 2022. Members of the Royal Aeronautical Society’s (RAeS) General Aviation Specialist Group with the support of the British Gliding Association (BGA) are promoting an initiative to establish a UK version of the German Akaflieg (Akademische Fliegergruppe) activity which aims to encourage participation of university students in the design, building and flying of full-scale aircraft. At a virtual meeting held on 12 May 2021, it was decided to start by approaching a handful of British universities which have active gliding clubs and then extend to the other members of the Association of Aerospace Universities (AAU). This type of practical experience is an essential complement to academic studies and the intention is to make it available to all UK aerospace students in the future. The key players are RAeS Council member David Chinn who has taken the lead, recent aerospace graduate Lucy Wootton who at the age of 20 became the youngest BGA Inspector, Professor Iain Gray from Cranfield University and Dr Mike Jump from University of Liverpool. I have kept the EPC fully updated on all our activities on behalf of the Aerospace Sectoral Group.

Earlier this year, the bank which has dealt with our finance since the founding of the AAU more than two decades ago, suddenly decided that they were closing our accounts which was most certainly an unwelcome development. It turned out that many of the financial institutions were doing the same with similar types of organisations. However, thanks to absolutely splendid efforts by our Treasurer Andy Lewis, an entirely new account has been recently opened with a bank which was willing to cater to our needs. This was one reason why the arrangements for the John Barnes student conference got delayed this year.

On a personal note, I will be fully and permanently retiring in a week’s time after having served as an academic for 31 years. I still find it difficult to believe how the decades have flown by since I graduated in 1979 … on Friday 13 July! I hope all our students experience the same exhilarating career that I have enjoyed, first as a researcher on future technologies, then as an engineer in industry and finally as a provider of knowledge to future generations.

I am very pleased to say that as a result of important lessons learned about video telepresence software platforms, the John Barnes Student Conference will take place starting at noon. Each student will be given a maximum of 20 minutes for the presentation and another five minutes or so will be allocated for the Q&A session. The the order of presentations (which might be changed due to reasons beyond our control) is as follows:

1. Noora Tauriainen, Tampere University (Finland), Direct Maintenance Cost Prediction Models for Aircraft Powerplant.

2. Miguel Ângelo Dias Caires, University of South Wales, CFD Study on the Effect of Adding Winglets to the Tip of the Wing of the Lockheed Martin C-130.

3. Adebayo Popoola, Coventry University, UAV Attitude Control System.

4. Abbie Learoyd-Smith, University of the West of England, Airline Strategies for Sustainability, their Influence on Profit and the COVID-19 Impact.

5. Pedro Hernandez Gelado, Glasgow University, The leading edge vortex and its secondary structures: a numerical study of the flow topology of pitching and plunging airfoils.

As always, I would like to strongly emphasise my appreciation of the unreserved support I received from the members and executives during this unprecedented period of continued disruptions to our ways of life. 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 despite the totally unexpected disruption to safe deposition of our savings, Vice Chairman Professor Moji Moatamedi and Secretary Dr Hassan Khawaja for their tireless assistance in resolving so many issues especially those relating to video telephony software platforms. 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 decade and a half. My heartfelt thanks once again to all colleagues and students for their resilience and our continued success in the face of adverse circumstances.

Thurai Rahulan PhD FRAeS
AAU Chairman

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