National aircraft design award winners

Chris Dempster, 21, from Lydney in Gloucestershire, and Nathan Davies, 22, from Newport, Gwent, won the Most Innovative Design award at the recent IT FLIES UK

Third year BEng (Hons) Aeronautical Engineering students, Chris Dempster and Nathan Davies, have won the Most Innovative Design award at the recent IT FLIES UK Annual Aircraft Design and Handling Competition, a national aircraft design competition held at the University of Swansea.

The annual competition, which is organised by the Merlin Flight Simulation Group, sees students who design an aircraft as part of their university course have their concepts flight tested in an engineering flight simulator by leading test pilots.

“The evolution of an aircraft design idea involves countless hours of conceptual design, calculations, laboratory testing and simulations until it is ultimately being flight tested and certified,” said Ilias Lappas, their supervisor and Course Leader at the University.

“Throughout this process many promising designs fail to translate into practical solutions due to poor flying and handling qualities and this is the real value of the experienced test pilots as they provide the students with a link to the real world, in addition with invaluable feedback on how their designs can be further optimised.”

Chris and Nathan worked on designs to reduce the drag encountered by a large cargo aircraft.

“The whole journey has taught me a lot in regards to applying my knowledge learnt in university towards a practical application and the feedback gained from the competition has added to my list of experiences, which is constantly growing in preparation towards a career in my field,” said Nathan.

“This will help my career as it has given me an analytical and troubleshooting approach to problems I may later encounter during my career, due to the intricate nature of the programme used alongside the flight simulator and the need for very high levels of accuracy, not only in calculations but in the approach to conceptual design,” Chris added.