CitationDownload as .RIS
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
NASA commander hails Welsh site as “world class”
Article Type: Mini features From: Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology: An International Journal, Volume 81, Issue 6
Parc Aberporth in Cardiganshire, West Wales has been hailed as a “world class facility” by one of NASA's leading officials.
Scott “Doc” Horowitz, a retired US Air Force Colonel and former master test pilot, recently visited the site as part of a whistle stop tour of Wales organised by International Business Wales, the Welsh Assembly Government's trade and investment arm, and he was so impressed that he has described Parc Aberporth as a potential “future world leader in its field”.
Horowitz, who served as a Commander and Pilot on four space shuttle missions and later led NASA's effort to develop a new family of spacecraft aimed at returning man to the moon by 2020, is regarded an one of the world's leading authorities on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), and his approval of Parc Aberporth will provide a huge boost to the world-wide reputation of the facility, which is already regarded as the UK's UAV Centre of Excellence.
Established in 2004, Parc Aberporth is a technology park created on what was a Royal Air Force (RAF) station. The station was one of the two local sites that had been used as a base for a missile range that stretched out for some miles into the nearby Cardigan Bay. This Danger Area still exists and is known as Danger Area D201. Since the RAF left, the testing facilities at nearby Parcllyn are operated by Qinetiq, and the old RAF camp at Blaenannerch (now recreated as Parc Aberporth) is owned by the Welsh Assembly Government. The runway and surrounding land is owned by businessman Ray Mann, who operates West Wales Airport, which is next to Parc Aberporth.
Speaking after his visit, Horowitz said:
“Parc Aberporth is a world class facility that undoubtedly has the potential to be a future world leader in its field, it is one of very few environments in the world that is going to be able to do some of the testing that is essential for UAV's.”
“Dealing with airspace is a very complicated matter, and although people will say that its just air we are talking about, there needs to be a multi faceted approach that needs co-operation between different agencies and organisations. You also have geographic issues and problems to overcome, such as land, access and weather.”
Testing UAV's at Parc Aberporth has been made possible as a six NM (11 km) radius around the airfield has been designated Restricted Airspace, allowing UAV's to operate without special dispensation across the Irish Sea. According to one Horowitz, this is one of the biggest plus points for Parc Aberporth:
“One of the principle problems in testing UAV's is having pristine airspace. In the US, test centres were traditionally put in the middle of nowhere, stuck out in deserts like Edwards Airforce Base in Los Angeles. The problem now is that the cities are growing, and encroaching into areas that previously were considered isolated. It is getting harder and harder to find places where you have low densities of population and open land and water without putting anyone at risk.”
“This is where Parc Aberporth comes into its own, its location is first class and the multi agency approach has overcome many of the obstacles that may be expected to stand in its way. If everything works out as planned, Wales will have a world class capability, the likes of which doesn't exist anywhere else across the globe.”
His tour of the facilities was led by Paul Cummins, UAV Strategy and Development Manager for International Business Wales, who has been specifically brought in by the Welsh Assembly Government for his expertise in the field and to lead all future Aerospace projects in Wales. He said:
“Scott Horowitz has been here to share his expertise and help prepare companies to meet NASA standards and expectations. When we talk about UAV's, we are not necessarily just talking about the military, we are also talking about non-military applications that can be used to solve some of the biggest problems facing the world today, like climate change and air-borne vector disease response. The issue that always faces the industry is the need for a suitable test location and Parc Aberporth certainly fits the bill. This country has had 60 years involvement in testing UAV's and now with the added help and expertise of Scott Horowitz, and a first class facility here in Cardiganshire, we can start seriously talking about taking the Aerospace industry in Wales into the next generation. International Business Wales is committed to providing hands on support to Wales-based companies looking to expand their global markets. Arranging for activities such as Scott's visit is an example of the level of support we offer.”