News from the Association of Aerospace Universities

Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology

ISSN: 0002-2667

Article publication date: 1 June 2000




(2000), "News from the Association of Aerospace Universities", Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology, Vol. 72 No. 3.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited

News from the Association of Aerospace Universities

Keywords AAU, Aerospace, Education, Partnering, Research, Staff development


The background and details of the AAU and its parallel further education association ACAT (The Association of Colleges of Aerospace Technology) are published in Vol. 71 No. 2, 1999 of this Journal and can be accessed via the Internet. The AAU aims and objectives are focused on the promotion of support for the UK aerospace industry through education and training, research, development and consultancy.

The membership listed below, reflecting how these aims are achieved, includes a wide spectrum of specialisms, expertise and physical resources.

Birmingham - City (London) - Coventry - De Montfort (Leicester) - Farnborough - Glasgow - Hertfordshire - Kingston - Liverpool - London Guildhall - Nottingham - Oxford Queen's (Belfast) - UWE (Bristol).

Progress since January 1999

There have been regular policy and planning meetings of the management team and the session at the University of Oxford on 9 October 1998 initiated a programme of bi-annual conferences. The Oxford event was greatly enhanced by an opportunity to attend both the Open Day in the Department of Materials and the annual prestigious Hirsch Lecture which was presented brilliantly by Professor Mike Ashby from University of Cambridge. Entitled "The engineering science of cellular solids" (metallic foams), it described the very interesting properties of these new materials and raised the question of when they will enter aerospace manufacturing in a substantial way. Professor Brian Cantor and Dr Ian Palmer hosted this AAU meeting which was also supported by Professors C. Ruiz and T.V. Jones.

Initiation of programme of two-day conferences

1. Glasgow 14/15 January 1999

This first conference was elegantly hosted by Professor Roderick Galbraith. The conference dinner was addressed by Mr Brian Wallace (M.D. of Traverse Ltd) who gave a witty review of some of the problems faced by industry.

The next day was spent on various policy issues including EPSRC networking initiatives and the AAU input to the coming Farnborough Millennium Airshow.

Following this were presentations by Peter Perry (SBAC) on Foresight Action, Mike Clifford and Gillian Beesley on The Lancashire Aerospace Consortium and Cathy Aplin of MCB University Press on the possibility of initiating a research register in the journal, Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology.

SBAC Foresight philosophy was explained with respect to: research group work and networks, industry group funding (for projects such as the ultra-reliable aircraft and the all-electric aircraft). AAU made two nominations for representation in the education and training group.

The role and benefits of the Lancashire Consortium were explained including its multi-regional connections and training resources.

A tour of the aerospace facilities and the famous Glasgow University Hunterian Museum ensued which completed a most enlightening and thought-provoking conference.

2. UWE Bristol 3/4 November 1999

This was a most pleasant event hosted by AAU Hon. Chairman Alan Jocelyn.

Mr Ian Grey, Future Projects Director - British Aerospace Airbus, addressed the conference dinner. He gave a review of major, existing and projected projects including the developments of the A345/500/600 series of airliner, the giant proposed A3XX civil airbus and the projected A400 turbo-prop large military transport. All this invited much support, speculation and hope for the future of Airbus Industrie with its four partners. Most striking is the continual vast advance in structural and avionics technology. The UK hopes continue with its dominant role in wing design and manufacture.

The following day covered: AAU policy, a discussion paper on "Aerospace and academia in the new millennium" (presented by Dr John Barnes, President of AAU), "The Skylon space plane project" (by Richard Varvill) and finally, "The modern turbo-fan engine as a constraint on airframe design" (by John Farley, former BAe Chief Test Pilot of Harrier fame).

Mr Varvill reviewed the structural aerodynamic and thermodynamic aspects of this advanced space plane. He described the extent of already completed university projects and the work yet needed to advance major knowledge. For example, research on achieving high flux heat transfer between fluids presents a challenge, not only to hybrid propulsion technology but to the eventual generation of power from the plasma of fusion reactors.

John Farley reviewed some of the problems encountered whilst developing the Harrier from an aircraft barely able to take off vertically to one which can carry relatively large payloads up to supersonic speeds. The vector analysis of the ski jump initiative was particularly interesting as was explanation of the novel and highly successful vectored nozzle thrust system.

Time was not available for a more general view of flight testing and so John was asked to speak further at the next meeting.

3. Birmingham University 16/17 March 2000

This was brilliantly hosted by Dr Mike Jacobs, Roderick Smith and colleagues of the University IRC in Materials for High Performance Applications.

The after-dinner speaker was John Farley who gave a fascinating review of engineering, logistic and human problems of flight testing. Of particular interest was the comparison of attitudes and procedures between the UK and the USA.

The following morning was mostly taken up with an extensive tour of the most impressive IRC facility. This has the additional prestige of being the Rolls-Royce University Technology Centre in titanium. Accordingly there was particular interest in the refining and development of titanium and its alloys and the development of "net shape" and other manufacturing techniques in addition to the overall excellence of the centre facilities. The enthusiasm of the staff was most refreshing.

Prior to lunch the conference also had a most inspiring talk by Richard Noble on his F1 fast commuter aircraft project and his new company

Then followed a policy meeting which included discussions on the AAU presence at the Millennium Farnborough Airshow and Exhibition (FI2000). Co-operation with the SBAC Careers in Aerospace initiative was demonstrated with the provision of a Merlin Products, advanced educational, flight and engineering, motion based simulator. This will be lent to the SBAC by Coventry University via the AAU flight simulator group.

The final session of this very comprehensive conference was led by Jim Wickerson of the training division of Rolls-Royce plc. He gave a most interesting lecture on "The holistic design of gas turbine engines". The extent to which Mr Wickerson has developed such a topic is most impressive. The elegance of such effort was showed by the fact that in only five days any of the technical staff can begin to assimilate and carry out basic design/evaluation of the R-R major product - the gas turbine.

Overall, even more ideas for projects and research were now added to those gained from the Oxford, Glasgow and Bristol meetings.

To come - London 4/5 October 2000

The next AAU conference will have the theme of "Space exploration on a shoe-string". It will be jointly hosted by City and Kingston Universities in London. Use of the IMAX cinema is planned as support for the concurrent theme of "National space week for schools". In this context it is useful to note that at Farnborough International 2000, the stands of "SBAC Careers", the AAU, ACAT and a Hampshire School will be in Hall 1, close to the restaurant and the stands of the British National Space Centre.

For further information on AAU activities please contact Dr Mike West (AAU secretary), Coventry University, School of Engineering, Priory Street, Coventry CV1 5FB, UK. Tel: +44 (0) 24 7688 8655, Fax +44 (0) 24 7688 8949, E-mail

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