Heading up Ricardo’s aerospace centre of excellence in Montreal, Canada, company programme manager, Alexandre Marceau-Gozsy reveals his passion for aerospace engineering.
My passion for engineering goes back to helping my father when I was younger. He enjoyed fixing everything around the house, from cars to electronics. I learnt a lot watching him and I was soon fixing and building myself.
At 14, I convinced myself that I could build an iceboat. I collected a spare mast, some used sails, skis, skates and a lot of wood and my father and I built our own prototype. It could go quite fast, especially downwind, although going upwind was a bit more of a challenge. I ended up doing more towing than sailing. But it was a great learning experience.
My passion for aerospace was ignited at the age of 12, when on a flight with my mum, who works for Air Canada, took me to meet the pilot in the cockpit. I was so excited and told everyone in my family what I had seen. When my aunt asked me if I wanted to be a pilot, I immediately said: “no, I don’t want to fly planes, I want to build them!” She reminded me of this when I was accepted on to my aerospace engineering degree.
Fast forward a few years, I was close to graduating, and I was given the opportunity to support the development of Snecma (now Safran Aircraft Engines), with their next generation of turbine blades. I nearly took it, but held off on a decision straight away. A few days later I secured what was at the time my dream engineering job supporting the development of the Bombardier Global 7000 business jet.
I was extraordinarily lucky to follow a complete aircraft development programme from clean sheet to entry into service. A jet aircraft is a formidable machine and seeing ideas go from concept to flightworthy was an incredible experience. It wasn’t all plain sailing as during the initial phase of the flight test campaign, it became obvious some of the systems we were developing didn’t work as intended. After several nights of troubleshooting, my rock-climbing partner, who also happened to be a flight test engineer, asked if I would be okay to do some flight runs to see live what was going on. Of course, I accepted, and I got the opportunity to do flight testing. Making friends early in your career does pay off!
After a few years, I joined a landing gear manufacturer as a programme manager, whilst also studying for a master’s degree in Business Administration. I worked on CH-47 Chinook and F-18 main landing gears projects, whilst simultaneously doing a thesis on the application of hydrogen for heavy duty transportation. I then joined Ricardo in Canada to create a new global centre of excellence for the aerospace industry, and I’ve enjoyed every minute since.
We’re developing a hybrid engine in partnership with Pratt & Whitney Canada, integrating an e-motor to an internal combustion engine to reach a combined power of about 2000MW, enough to support regional aircraft, such as the Bombardier Q-400 or the ATR 72. In parallel, our UK team is working on Project Fresson, which aims to replace the conventional gas engines of a BN-2 Islander with e-motors and hydrogen powered fuel cells to significantly reduce the aircraft emissions and maintenance costs. We’re also in active discussions with multiple customers to support eVTOL and aircraft electrification projects.
It’s an interesting time for the aerospace industry, as we’re witnessing the beginning of a journey towards zero-emissions solutions. The reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is the primary focus of new aircraft development. Hybrid engines and fuel cells for aerospace application are probably the most promising opportunities currently. And away from work I still enjoy fixing things with my father, although I tend to stick to car maintenance these days.