The future of aircraft structures

Fraser Hollingsworth first studied aircraft maintenance engineering at college. He then decided to continue his studies with the BSc (Hons) Aircraft Maintenance Engineering to improve upon existing knowledge and skills, and to increase his chances of becoming successful in the aircraft maintenance sector.

"A few years back, I completed work experience at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire, working on Typhoons and Tornados. This was my first real interaction with aircraft in a maintenance capacity and I feel this is where the interest and passion sparked.

The facilities at USW were fantastic! We had access to a hangar with a Jetstream aircraft and workshop, which really improved our practical skills. Being able to complete various sheet metal tasks ensures that it really fulfills all aspects of the aircraft maintenance industry. Overall, the nature of the course and the topics covered are without a doubt relevant to the type of job I would like.

Dissertation

My final year project was ‘Damage Assessment of Composite and Metallic Structures'. An increasing amount of aircraft are being manufactured more from composite materials. This project set out to assess the impact damage obtained between aircraft grade aluminum (present) compared to carbon fiberglass composite (future). The impact showed the aluminum was damaged beyond repair whereas the composite showed minimal signs of visual damage. The other advantage with composites is that they are lightweight and can withstand impacts better than aluminum, hence making them the better choice to manufacture aircraft.

Being able to produce composite panels that replicate those used on real-life aircraft was a real achievement for me. Having an interest in the future of aircraft structures and materials allowed me to go the extra mile in the dissertation. There were no surprises with regard to the results that were obtained, as the new and advanced composites were able to withstand impact forces better compared to the aluminum.

My dream career would be to become a fully licensed aircraft engineer, with the option to travel the world and work in various countries. This course has given me the knowledge and determination to pursue my dream career in the industry."