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Frazer-Nash Consultancy works in partnership with the IMechE on this year’s UAS Challenge

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Systems and engineering consultancy, Frazer-Nash, will be supporting the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) at the finale event of this year’s IMechE UAS Challenge.

Launched in 2014, the annual challenge runs alongside the academic year – commencing each November – and encourages budding undergraduate engineers and working postgraduates from across the globe to compete in a full design and build cycle of an unmanned aerial system (UAS). The aircraft must be able to undertake specific humanitarian mission objectives, without exceeding a take-off mass of 10kg.

Rod Williams, Principal Consultant in the Airworthiness and Technical Services aerospace group at Frazer-Nash Consultancy, commented:

“Frazer-Nash has been growing steadily in the aerospace and assured autonomous system sector, and has been at the forefront of innovation for a while. Given our key role in military and civil aviation, which assists regulators, operators and developers of aircraft and aviation systems to assure safety, we’ve been central to the development of the UAS Challenge since its inception eight years ago.

“The competition attracts a strong cohort of undergraduate and postgraduate students, and it provides interesting discussions with our clients in the sector who we are supporting, or trying to support, in UAS integration.

“We divide the year into concept, design, development and demonstration stages; with a business presentation and flying demonstration contributing to the scoring. The challenge provides an opportunity for students to learn practical aerospace engineering skills which set them up for industry, as well as the chance to develop and demonstrate transferable skills, such as team working and leadership.

“In my capacity as ‘Chief Scrutineer’, I ensure that throughout each stage of the process the aircraft is safe, complaint with the rules, uses correct materials, and above all else, follows good practice. My team includes experienced engineers from UK MOD and industry, and several young graduate engineers form Frazer-Nash.

“The aviation industry is underpinned by airworthiness; and the key to that is safety. Before I joined Frazer-Nash, I was the Army Aviation Chief Engineer, and my role was to keep military aircraft safely operated and maintained. This challenge gives the students a real world understanding of the whole process of safety in aviation.”

The challenge, which culminates in a ‘final fly off event’ from 6-8 July at the British Model Flying Association (BMFA) in Buckminster, requires each of the teams’ aircraft to operate automatically, performing a series of tasks, such as an area search, navigating waypoints, accurately delivering an aid package, and returning to base via a defined route.

Senior Business Manager within Frazer-Nash’s Space, Aerospace and Assured Autonomous System sector, Martin Soltau, commented:

“Rod and I have been on the organising committee of the UAS Challenge for years. It’s a great competition, and has grown year on year into the current international event that it is today, with over 30 teams. Contenders are presented with a ‘real world challenge’, with those who take part likely to have enhanced employment opportunities in the sector once they graduate.” 

Martin added: “When the IMechE first proposed this challenge, I eagerly volunteered to design some of the key elements such as the competition rules, and to sit on the committee. As a pilot with a background in aviation, and having taken part in several flying competitions, this challenge sits keenly within my area of expertise.

“As founding members of the committee, Rod and I help to run the competition in various ways – from developing the rules and assuring compliance, to sponsoring the safety prize.

“The students have the benefit of working alongside real experienced people who have dedicated their careers to developing and operating aircraft. For them, it’s great because they get access to very senior, capable people, and for us, we are delighted that the challenge attracts motivated engineers who choose to work at this challenge alongside undertaking their university qualifications.

“It’s pleasing to see that the competition has grown to be internationally recognised – over half of teams who enter come from overseas universities. We work hard year on year to improve the flying exhibition for spectators, and this year will be no different.”

To find out more about Frazer-Nash Consultancy’s Aerospace and Assured Autonomous System sector, please contact Martin Soltau or Tim Myall.

To learn more about the IMechE’s UAS Challenge, please visit their website, view photos from the 2021 fly off event and watch the 2021 event video.