Royal achievement for Welsh Aerospace Engineering team
Seven Master's Aerospace Engineering students from Swansea University have ensured their careers get off to a flying start after clinching a prestigious winner's trophy.
The trophy was awarded in the annual Merlin Flight Simulation Group Aircraft Design and Handling Competition held at the Royal Aeronautical Society in London.
Amirabbas Abbasian, Seren Essex, Lee Evans, Daniel Kendrick, Rhys Lewis, Chris Stirk, and Daniel Wellman were awarded the Harrier Trophy by Merlin Flight Simulation Group, a cheque for £1,000 by the RAF Directorate of Recruiting and a year's complimentary membership each to the Royal Aeronautical Society.
The Swansea University team also won a special prize for the Best New Aircraft Design and hour-long flying lessons awarded by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.
It was their innovative design for a twin engine business jet aircraft which saw them beat off stiff competition from 10 teams fielded by seven universities across the UK including Bath, Manchester and Leeds Universities according to Dr Hans Sienz, Programme Director for Aerospace Engineering at Swansea University.
He said: "To achieve top honours in a competition of this magnitude the first time you enter and within just five years of setting up Wales' only professionally accredited aerospace engineering degree scheme currently is outstanding. It demonstrates the commitment of the university to the strategic importance of aerospace, the quality of the education for the students, the quality of students the course attracts, and the hard work the School of Engineering has put into the development of the degree scheme.
"The students were able to put the quality and the level of their design work to the test by real-life test pilots in direct competition with other universities' entries and I was delighted that the test pilot was so convinced of the design that he would have given our team a provisional order of a 1,000 planes."
The award follows just months after Swansea University's investment in a £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 only eight simulators available in UK universities and is believed to be the most advanced programmable of its kind currently, with a 3D vision helmet, helicopter simulation, and flight navigation database.
To complete the entry, the team students' project had to include 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.
The competition entry was programmed into the flight simulator at the Royal Aeronautical Society and flown by two professional test pilots who assessed the design 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 were also displayed and assessed.
Talking about the experience Seren Essex, originally from Polzeath in Cornwall, said: "It's incredibly rewarding to fly an aircraft you've actually designed yourself and we're really happy with the finished design. The new flight simulator in the department has been invaluable for the development of the aircraft, especially in the final testing stages."
Image caption: Back row, left to right, Dr Mike Clee (Aerospace Engineering Tutor), Daniel Wellman, Chris Stirk, Lee Evans. Front row, left to right, Amirabbas Abbasian, Daniel Kendrick, Rhys Lewis, and Seren Essex. The team are pictured in front of the flight simulator, housed in the School of Engineering.