What does a normal day at Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV) consist of for you?
Currently, it’s all about getting ready to begin design and certification of the Avionics architecture for Airlander. As Airlander will be Type Certified and will fly in all airspace classes as well as IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) and VFR (Visual Flight Rules), it is subject to strict rules that require installation of specific Avionics equipment. This ranges from basic indicators (such as altitude, airspeed, direction) through to the sophisticated Flight Management, Communications, Navigation, and Surveillance equipment that you would typically expect to find on an Airbus or Boeing airliner. This equipment requires careful selection, design, and testing to ensure its suitability and compliance to the stringent safety requirements that you would expect in aviation. As such, a typical day for me could involve planning around this, researching regulations, defining requirements, or meeting equipment manufacturers.
Tell us a bit about your background and career history
Before HAV my whole career has been focused on large passenger jets. After studying Aeronautical Engineering and then Aerodynamics at university, my first job was at Airbus where I worked on Fuel Systems tests on the A350-900 (XWB) aircraft. This was an interesting time to be at Airbus as it was during the Type Certification program for the A350 and I got to see the whole test campaign, from the early lab testing on avionics and fluid mechanical test rigs, through to ground and flight testing of the prototype aircraft. After this, I moved to Virgin Atlantic and worked as an Avionics Design and Development engineer for 8 years. My main role here was maintaining airworthiness of the aircraft which gave me the opportunity to work on many different aircraft systems, many aircraft types (for me this was the Airbus A330, A340, A350, and Boeing B747 & B787), and many activities such as aircraft deliveries, hand backs, and upgrades.
What brought you to HAV?
I wanted to be part of a team working on something so unique and innovative. Opportunities on projects such as this don’t come around in aviation that often, certainly in the UK, so I applied as soon as I saw the advert.
How do you think this position at HAV differs from other places you have worked?
Being right at the start of the development of the Airlander 10 and because the team is currently quite small, there is a real opportunity to be involved in a variety of areas and to have a strong personal influence in the design and organisation. This is a first for me as my previous roles have been in large organisations on well-established projects.
What most excites you about the Airlander Project?
What excites me most about Airlander is its potential to provide a sustainable form of aviation. The world relies heavily on aviation, but it needs to make big changes as it is one of the biggest contributors to the climate change crisis we are in today. I feel that Airlander represents a real solution as it will be one of the greenest and most energy efficient forms of air transport, yet versatile enough to keep the world connected in multiple ways.
Any advice for the young engineers of tomorrow?
I would say take any opportunity you can get to gain experience. Ultimately, everyone leaves education with similar qualifications so anything you can get to make yourself stand out from the crowd is a bonus. I benefited from several engineering internships when I was student, and while some were not directly in the field I wanted to work in, I found that the skills and experience I gained were transferable and helped me later in my career.