Issue date: 03 June 2004

ISSUE DATE: 03/06/04

The University of the West of England, Bristol, (UWE), will be hosting an Aircraft Design and Handling competition on Tuesday 8 June this year on their state-of-the-art Merlin (MP521) simulator. The competition is run by Merlin Flight Simulation Group, manufacturers of engineering flight simulators, and UWE is one of the first universities to own the new generation MP521 - which tests aircraft design and handling*.

An engineering flight simulator is different from other simulators used to instruct aspiring pilots how to fly. Engineering simulators are used to teach aeronautical engineering students the subjective aspects of flight. They provide the link between theory and practice for the mechanics of flight and provide a valuable understanding of the importance of appropriate handling characteristics when teaching aircraft design.

Students from nine universities across the UK will design an aircraft using software which will then be ‘flown’ on the simulator. Each student team will also give a presentation about their design which could be anything from an early glider to a space aircraft. Merlin’s Aircraft Design and Handling Competition is a unique event, open to individuals or teams from universities offering aeronautical degrees, where students are set the task of designing and modelling an aircraft as part of their course.

This is the first year that UWE has hosted this annual competition which John Lanham, Head of the School of Mechanical, Manufacturing and Aerospace Engineering at UWE says is an excellent opportunity for the teams, “There are many important developments in aerospace engineering at the moment and this competition gives students the chance to compete against their peers using the most up to date technology. UWE works closely with the aerospace industry to ensure that its graduates are in touch with the very latest technology and can make an immediate impact when they go into industry.”
The competition is judged in two parts. All teams are required to produce a presentation of their aircraft designs, including drawings and models, to be judged by representatives from the aerospace industry. The simulated designs are then ‘flown’ and assessed in UWE’s MP521 simulator by John Farley, an ex-Harrier Chief Test Pilot, well-known and respected throughout the industry. Invited spectators and guests from the aerospace industry will be able to watch the flight of each design whilst listening to John Farley’s commentary.


Editor’s notes

*UWE is the first UK university to purchase the new generation MP521 simulator. This advanced simulator has a larger capsule than its forerunner, allowing for three LCD screens in the cockpit. It is fitted with Merlin’s unique second generation six degree freedom-of-flight software, supported by a six-axis hydraulic motion base, giving a more realistic ‘flight feel’.

Student teams from nine universities have entered the competition this year – UWE, Glasgow, Manchester, Salford, Bath, Hertfordshire, City, Kingston and Brunel. The winning team will receive five hours instructional flying, donated by AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association), as well as student membership of the Royal Aeronautical Society. For the first time, a runner’s up prize, donated by Airbus Engineering UK, will be also be awarded. This year’s entries range from a 1000 seater airliner to a two seater light aircraft. Last year the competition was won by a glider.

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