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Summary of the 15th SFTE EC Annual symposium

London, England (2004-06-07/10)
Written by Derek Reeh - SETP Chair of the 2004 Symposium

The 2004 SETP European Symposium was held jointly with SFTE at the Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS) in London. The RAeS is situated in an 18th century building at the very attractive west end of the city overlooking Hyde Park in an area associated with the purple squares on the Monopoly Board. Fortunately the capricious British weather took on a Mediterranean flavour which allowed the interval breaks and lunches to be enjoyed al fresco on the large balcony overlooking the park.

The symposium started with a wine and canapé reception on the Monday evening attended by delegates and their partners. On Tuesday partners were invited to attend an introductory briefing on the city by a London travel guide whilst delegates attended the first technical session. The session started with a keynote address by Air Marshal Sir Colin Terry, President elect of the RAeS. In welcoming delegates to this joint event Sir Colin provided a brief history of the RAeS, aviation’s first learned institution. The Society welcomed all aviation professionals to its membership worldwide and had specialist groups that represented all sectors of aviation. The Flight Test Group of the RAeS was privileged to host the joint SETP / SFTE symposium.

The overall theme of the symposium was the test team with an emphasis on the pilot / engineer partnership for success. Papers were chosen to reflect this theme and were generally presented jointly by a pilot and an engineer. The scope of the papers was large: in scale terms from microlights and parachutes at one end to the latest combat aircraft and airliners at the other end. There was also geographical diversity with papers coming from India to the West Coast of the USA and from Sweden to South Africa. Papers were presented in 4 sessions over 2 days. Session chairmen were: Kjell Karlsson, SFTE European President; Jim Brown, SETP President; Andy Tracy. SFTE European Secretary; and Patrick Experton, Chairman of the previous SETP 2003 European Symposium.

The general standard of the papers was high and, in addition to general interest, all delegates could find something of particular relevance to their own specialisation. Particular mention should be made of Guy Gratton who, in his elegantly presented paper on the Microlight Tumble Mode, expertly took the highly experienced delegate body through an area of aviation that most had never imagined let alone encountered.

On the social side, Tuesday evening was spent with guests on the ‘London Eye’, a large slow turning Ferris wheel on the south bank of the River Thames, sipping wine and appreciating a unique panorama of London that prior to completion of the Eye at the turn of the millennium had been the sole preserve of helicopter pilots. On Wednesday evening the banquet was held in the Park Lane Intercontinental hotel - the food and wine were outstanding. Jim Brown presented Hilary Dodds, daughter of the late Cyclops Brown, with the honorary fellowship scroll awarded to her father shortly before his death last year. Franz Enzinger, President of SFTE, presented the Airbus team of Ed Strongman and Didier Ronceray with the ‘best symposium paper’ award for their outstanding presentation on development of the take-off rotate laws of the A340-600, the world’s longest airliner. Finally Duncan Simpson, former Chief Test Pilot of Hawker Siddley, who flew the first flight of the Hawk and led much of the early flight testing of the Harrier and its prototypes. Duncan’s personal history – former engineering apprentice, RAF pilot and finally industry test pilot – underlined the pilot / engineer team and the main theme of this symposium. He talked amusingly about the time when, as an engineering apprentice, he manufactured wing spars for the ‘Wright Flyer’. Not the original, but the British made replica. Apparently, the Wright’s had donated their original aircraft to the UK because of the poor response to their landmark achievement in their home country. This replica was built so that the London Science Museum would allow the original to be re-patriated to the Smithsonian.

The final event of the symposium was a VIP visit for delegates and their guests to the RAF Museum. It is situated in Hendon, north London, on what was the site of the UK’s first aircraft factory, which later became a Spitfire base defending London and southeast England during the Battle of Britain. As well as a unique collection of RAF military aircraft dating from pre-World War I to the present day, it has a number of specialist aviation exhibits including a re-construction of the original factory and a hangar dedicated to World War II.

My thanks to all those who made this joint SETP / SFTE event a successful and enjoyable occasion: Barbara Wood, symposium co-Chair from SFTE; Don Maclaine, CTP Agusta Westland, who chaired the technical committee that selected the excellent range of papers; Christine Philbin and her team from the RAeS who provided an excellent administrative service and ensured the smooth running of all activities; Group Captain Andy Young, RAF CTP, who organised the RAF Museum visit; the session chairs who managed to ensure that the technical presentations and questions ran perfectly to time; the many presenters who diligently prepared an outstanding set of technical presentations; and finally to all the delegates from nearly 20 European, Asian, African and North American nations, many of whom travelled several thousand miles to attend.