Student Project: Flapless Flight Control

Louis Flanagan.JPG

Louis is in the final year of his MEng in Aeronautical Engineering. His final year project, ‘Flapless Flight Control: A Review and Investigation’ recently featured in the University’s annual Engineering Showcase.


“I’ve been involved in aviation for most of my life, with my dad having a semi commercial pilot’s license and my involvement with the Air Training Corps. However, when it came to choosing a university course I struggled to think of one at first. It wasn't until I was brainstorming ideas with my girlfriend and a documentary about future aircraft designs came on the TV that I finally put two and two together. I realised that a career in aeronautical engineering was the right one for me.

“One of the main things I wanted was a course that was accredited, and the course at the University of South Wales is accredited by the
Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IME), the Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS) and the Engineering Council. I was also very impressed by the aircraft in the hangar, the flight simulator and the wind tunnel, which I’ve used at various stages throughout the course.

“I had visited Cardiff and the Brecon Beacons a number of times on hill walking trips, so I already knew I loved the capital city and the countryside around it. Being from London, the switch from capital to capital was ideal and gave me an exciting new environment, while still feeling quite homely.

“For my final year project, I conducted a review of control services and flapless aircraft. With the information gathered, a number of desirable and undesirable qualities were discovered. This led to the design of a unique flapless flight control system that uses the idea of pushing air along a 'conveyer belt'. This system is believed to decrease the weight and drag applied to the aircraft by conventional control surfaces. It is expected that this system will in turn reduce fuel costs, decrease flight times and provide a much more comfortable ride for pilots and passengers alike.

“What I’ve enjoyed most of all about my course is the fact that the work that I’m doing with the project hasn’t, to my knowledge, been fully attempted or explored before. When I first took the project on, it excited me to think I would be producing my dissertation on something that could be fresh, new and exciting to the world of aviation. It was a massive motivation during difficult times in the project to know that my work has the potential to make an impact on the future of aviation.

“From here, I’m hoping to progress onto a graduate scheme that will get me working in the industry, yet still support me on the road to gaining chartered engineer status. My ideal career would involve developing and testing new ideas for fighter aircraft, helicopters, large passenger aircraft or space aircraft, as each of them are impressive in their own right. Working with them would excite me and test me to my limits, which would keep me on my toes and get the best out of me. While I am looking to progress into a working environment, I’m also massively keen to keep learning and improving myself day by day, as I believe you can never have enough knowledge or experience.”