Flying High: Sheffield academics develop new course for UK aerospace industry

University of Sheffield’s Low Carbon Combustion Centre (LCCC) has developed a new bespoke course to help ensure the UK retains its leading position in fuel system & engine design, test method development and fuel specification management.

Aimed at industry engineers, strategists and business leaders involved fuel and fuel system related activity, the course focuses on a gap in current training courses by concentrating on understanding fuel specification/quality, composition and emphasising its impact on engine and airframe performance.  There is also a significant element of improving understanding of emerging non-conventional fuels from alternative and sustainable feedstocks, and the processes by which these fuels are developed, evaluated and certified.

Leading aircraft manufacturer Airbus provided expertise in the development and delivery of the course. More than 25 of their employees and those of their industry partners have been trained on the pilot course and upskilled as a result.

The week-long blended learning sessions are now available to anyone in the industry, and consist of a mix of lectures, discussion workshops and practical labs based in the University’s state-of-the-art new £81million engineering facility, the Diamond and one of Europe’s leading facility for novel combustion and low carbon technology, the LCCC research facilities.

Learning was led by world-leading academics, industrial experts and guest speakers to talk on wide aspects of the subject and encourage cross-industry dialogue.

Dr Simon Blakey from the University of Sheffield’s Low Carbon Combustion Centre said: It’s been fantastic to translate the outcomes of our world-leading research into aviation fuels and develop a teaching tool for this network of up and coming professionals in the sector.”

He added: “It’s exciting to see the new collaborations and research ideas stemming from this course, which would normally have taken much longer to germinate.”

The course was funded by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, as part of the Employer Ownership of Skills Pilot Programme, addressing skill development and job creation needed to safeguard the future of the UK aerospace industry.

Next year’s course is planned and the team already have significant interest from a range of manufacturers and organisations.

Chris Lewis, Business Development Manager at the LCCC said: “We hope that students in the future will benefit from this industry collaboration with plans to incorporate the programme into their final year Masters in Engineering (MEng) and postgraduate courses, ensuring the next generation of engineers will join industry with in-demand cutting edge capability and skills.”

Mark Stewart, General Manager and HR Director for Airbus UK said: “All fuel systems for Airbus aircraft are designed in the UK and this was an excellent initiative supported by government to strategically invest in and support the development of skills in this important area. With the demand for more fuel efficient aircraft and the development of alternative fuel sources, there has never been a better time to do this.”