What does a normal day at Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV) consist of for you?
One of the things I love about working at HAV is that there isn’t such a thing as a ‘normal’ day. On any given day I could be flying around the world in the HAV Flight Training Device, developing aerodynamic design improvements for our concept aircraft, using aircraft performance models to help provide our Technical Director with the information necessary to guide business use cases, or using my experience to guide other members of the team with their own work; or indeed all of the above and more. Working within an enthusiastic and dynamic team, with a wide range of experience, the key defining feature of my role is to keep an open mind and take a flexible can-do attitude to whatever task comes to hand.
Tell us a bit more about what the Flight Sciences team do.
Different companies define ‘Flight Sciences’ in many different ways. At HAV, ‘Flight Sciences’ is an amalgamation of most of these different definitions, encompassing aerodynamic design, flight loads analysis, aircraft performance modelling, flight dynamics modelling and simulation, and even ground and flight test. Beyond this, classed as a ‘Design Service’ the Flight Sciences team can, and often is, asked to contribute to a wide array of tasks where our modelling and analytical skills, or scientific rigour, can provide a positive contribution.
What are you currently working on?
My primary focus of work at the moment is on the HAV Flight Training Device (FTD), our in-house fixed based flight simulation device. As one of the original developers of the system, I have been leading a comprehensive upgrade of the models underpinning the FTD to make it more representative of the new production aircraft concept baseline. At each baseline our Chief Test Pilot and myself, in the role of a Simulator Flight Test Engineer, put the new aircraft model through a range of tests to explore its capabilities and operating boundaries, and determine where further improvements can be made, so as to inform the iterative development process for the production aircraft.
What made you pick engineering as a career?
When we flew between places during my childhood, I regularly spent time in the cockpit thanks to my mother’s role in the airline industry – this was of course long before rules about flying with the pilots were tightened up. This helped fire my imagination about flight from a very early age, which morphed over time to my general passion for engineering as the career with which I could quite literally tame the rules of nature to help turn visionary ideas into reality to make the world a better place.
The fact that I can effectively be a professional kid (watching paint flow patterns take shape over a model in a wind tunnel and playing computer games for a living, after all) certainly helps as well.
Favourite piece of engineering ever?
Our modern world is shaped by epic engineering successes, most of which I find simply incredible. However, if I was to pick one thing, I would say Disney World. In my eyes it is a true masterpiece of multi-disciplinary engineering, where imagination is turned into reality on a daily basis with intricate concepts, complicated infrastructure, and logistical challenges all made to work with incredible technical precision. I honestly believe if the ingenuity and imagination that underpins a place like that could be applied to tackle other big challenges that face our world, we could soon be living in a whole new world.
On an aerospace note, my favourite feat would be the early NASA space programmes culminating in the Apollo missions. Testing the boundaries of knowledge with what in hindsight may seem like seriously limited resources, these missions were, to me, the epitome of exceptional engineering success, combining technical brilliance, teamwork and remarkable ingenuity into something that fired the imagination of people across the globe. I continue to live in awe of how they achieved what they did mostly with pens, paper, chalk and blackboards, when I rely on a computer to do the simplest of things – literally out of this world stuff!
What excites you most about the Airlander project?
It is very simple really! Working at HAV gives me the chance to play a pivotal role across the complete life-cycle of the development of a novel aircraft concept, a concept that I believe could play a key part in helping us achieve a sustainable aviation future – all the while surrounded by some incredibly passionate, talented and friendly people. What more could anyone want in his/her professional life?
Any advice for the young engineers of tomorrow?
Don’t be afraid to take a risk working with smaller start-ups or less well-known firms working in what can sometimes be seen as niche fields – it can be a great opportunity to push boundaries, learn new things and truly challenge the norm, and almost certainly makes for a great adventure!
Interested in working at Hybrid Air Vehicles and playing a pivotal role in bringing Airlander to market like Carl? You can find out more about how to apply here.