Select Committee on Trade and Industry Minutes of Evidence

Annex A


  1.  The design team originally involved in Arbus was the Hawker Siddeley (née De Havilland) Design Organisation at Hatfield, joined later by that from British Aircraft Corporation (BAC) at Weybridge and Bristol. All these sites benefited considerably, particularly in aerodynamic research, from collaboration with the RAE at Farnborough and Bedford (and, till the late 60s, with the NPL at Teddington). This had been a long-standing liaison for civil aircraft after the Second World War, through the development of aircraft such as the Comet, Trident, VC10 and BAC 1-11. Research support mechanisms were:

    —  Company Finance.

    —  Government support through CARAD predecessors.

    —  RAE Extramural Funded Research portfolio.

    —  RAE Intramural Research Portfolio.

  2.  Although at the time HSA and BAC were in competition, there were several mechanisms to ensure co-ordination and mutual benefit for the UK industry, for example the RAE Aerodynamics Research Consultative Committee, which reviewed the RAE Intramural and External portfolio annually, both for Military and Civil applications.

  3.  A very valuable contribution directly relevant to Airbus was the aerodynamic methods development work by RAE particularly for transonic cruise conditions. This includes the early work by Kuchmann, Weber, Lock on sub-critical flows and Green's Integral Boundary Layer Method. These were followed by the "Transonic Small Perturbation" 3D Computational method by Albone and Treadgold and the Viscous Inviscid Interaction "VGK" 2D viscous full potential aerofoil design code. The former were used on the A300 and the latter on the A310 and A320.

  4.  As well as the industrial work (including ARA Bedford), there was also highly relevant experimental work on both aerofoil and 3D Wing Design carried out intramurally by RAE, including high Reynolds Number testing in the Bedford 8x8 Tunnel.

  5.  Major contributions were also made in the field of High Lift Devices, once again as part of the intramural RAE programme and extramural support to the "National High Lift Programme" in the 1970s, which developed all aspects of high lift systems, Aerodynamics, Structures and Mechanical Systems. Again Wind Tunnel facilities and testing was a major contributor; the Bedford 8x8 again, and the 13x9, plus the Farnborough 12´. In the last 70s/80s the five metre tunnel then took over.

  6.  The contribution in terms of expertise markedly reduced as the terms of reference of the RAE were changed towards defence only and DERA came into being. Some support did continue, funded from the CARAD budget, but was much more "in the margins".

  7.  Thus in the early days of Airbus, the combination of the stable experienced Industrial teams plus the equally significant team at RAE/NPL was a very powerful combination, giving a firm foundation to the substantial UK contribution to the success of the Airbus Product line.

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