Cardiff and Vale College students’ Aerospace skills soar after building an aircraft in their spare time
Aircraft Engineering students at Cardiff and Vale College now have a huge new aeroplane on which to practice their skills thanks to the hard work and dedication of five of its students.
The College took ownership of the former Royal Navy Jetstream 31in March 2011. It had to be practically stripped before it could travel the 200 miles from RNAS Culdrose in south West Cornwall to CAVC’s International Centre for Aerospace Training (ICAT) at Cardiff International Airport.
Work on rebuilding the twin engine turboprop was progressing gradually until the summer, when the group of BSc Aircraft Engineering students approached the College’s Head of Aerospace Steve Vincent.
“They offered their services to help with the build of the Jetstream,” Steve explained. “From that time on they have volunteered their free time.
“They spend all day Tuesday on it and on Friday their class finishes at 12.30 so they spend Friday afternoons on it as well – I have had to force them to go home at 5pm. Any other spare time they could fit in around their course was also spent on it.”
The students – Edward Baker, Morgan Brown, James Moore and Ross Tweedy - completely rebuilt the aircraft. They refitted all of the flight controls, the hydraulics – so the undercarriage is in full working order – and the avionics systems.
When the aircraft was taken apart all of the wiring was cut through so that the wings could be removed, meaning the students had to pore over technical manuals and reattached the often unmarked wires one by one when they refitted the wings.
“They’ve done an amazing job,” Steve said. “The students spent roughly 2,000 man hours of their own time on this aircraft. All they asked for was to be fed and watered so we took them out for meals every month.”
ICAT Technicians Chris Morgan, Robert Ridgard and Lecturer Leighton Marson oversaw and assisted the students throughout, sometimes making parts that were proving hard to find. “Everything was overseen by ICAT staff and all of the correct technical publications were consulted,” Steve said. “We didn’t
just let them loose on the aircraft! But they have done a fantastic job and this work will give them brilliant portfolios for their future careers.”
One of the students, Ross Tweedy, said: “It was a real challenge at first because we didn’t have much work experience, especially of working on a Jetstream. After reading all of the technical manuals and a lot of team work it all came together and it really was very enjoyable.
“We had to do a lot of research as well with people who to used own Jetstreams so we had to put a lot of hours in. We all took it in turns to be team leader, and we had team managers for the individual areas of the aircraft that needed working on. We also moved around a bit to make sure we all had experience of working on different parts – we all became specialists in different areas.”
The Jetstream 31 was used to train Navy navigators and electrical engineers and will now be used to train ICAT’s Aircraft Engineering students. Passenger versions of the aircraft carry 19 people, making it the largest plane ICAT has ever had.
It also came with all of its ground safety equipment, creating a safe environment for students to work in, creating a unique training opportunity for aerospace training in Wales.
The students are on the innovative BSc Hons Aircraft Engineering programme, run in collaboration with the University of Glamorgan. It leads to an EASA PART-66 Aircraft Engineering License as well as a BSc Hons in Aerospace Engineering, offering progression routes in the aerospace industry in both technical and managerial routes.