Aerospace Engineering team aim to fly high in national competition
A team of postgraduate Aerospace Engineering students from Swansea University are putting the finishing touches to their entry for this year's Merlin Flight Simulation Group Aircraft Design and Handling Competition.
Master's students Amirabbas Abbasian, Seren Essex, Lee Evans, Daniel Kendrick, Rhys Lewis, Chris Stirk, and Daniel Wellman (pictured, with tutor Dr Mike Clee) will see their aircraft design take-off at the national competition, which will be held at the Royal Aeronautical Society in London on Friday, June 13.
The team, which is competing for the competition’s top prize of £1,000, has been designing a business jet aircraft since last September for their group Master's project.
And the students have had the added benefit of trialling their designs on the University's new £250,000 state-of-the-art single-seat flight simulator facility, housed in the School of Engineering.
The flight simulator, built by the Merlin Flight Simulation Group, is one of the most advanced programmable simulators of its kind currently available in any UK university, with a 3D vision helmet, helicopter simulation, and flight navigation database.
The students' project has included detailed calculations of the flight dynamics, aerodynamics, and propulsion. In-depth design of the airframe, landing gear, and propeller has also been undertaken, along with thorough research into the materials, manufacturing, and cost analysis.
Their final design will be input to the flight simulator at the Royal Aeronautical Society and flown by two professional test pilots.
Their competition entry will be assessed for ground handling, take off and initial climb out, cruise stability and control, stall, and final approach, and landing. The project material and technical information will also be displayed and assessed.
Team spokeswoman Seren Essex, originally from Polzeath in Cornwall, said: "It has been a tough design process for the team over the past year, with many hurdles to overcome. The aircraft has gone from grounded, to a 'brick in the sky', to finally, after an arduous and intensive last few months, flying like a dream.
"The new flight simulator in the department has been invaluable for the development of the aircraft, especially in the final testing stages. It's incredibly rewarding to fly an aircraft you've actually designed yourself and we're really happy with the finished design."
Dr Hans Sienz, Programme Director for Aerospace Engineering, added: "The team has successfully climbed a very steep learning curve when they had to make the step from a paper exercise to the flight simulator model, which enabled them to verify and to improve their design.
"An even bigger challenge will be the national competition, where their plane will be judged by experienced pilots in direct competition with other universities' entries. It gives the students a very good idea about the quality and the level of their design work."