A slingshot into aerospace training

Apprentices studying at MTC Training – the training arm of the Manufacturing Technology Centre near Coventry, UK – are getting the chance to build major components for an airworthy light aeroplane in an initiative to give them valuable manufacturing experience.

The team is celebrating after completing the first stage of Project Slingshot – a critical structure for the left wing. They plan is to have both left and right wing assemblies complete over the coming weeks, along with the aircraft's fuel tanks.

The apprentices are part of a consortium that includes students at Aston University’s Engineering Academy and the Royal Air Force, working on Project Slingshot – the Air League’s aircraft building initiative which seeks to deliver STEM learning through building a light aircraft.

David Grailey, managing director of MTC Training, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for our apprentices to put what they are learning into practice. Learners are able to contribute the skills they have already gained through their programme while practicing additional skills such as project management and teamwork alongside other apprentices and more seasoned engineers. I have no doubt that the extra skills and experiences they are gaining through Project Slingshot will enrich their learning journey and prove invaluable throughout their future careers.”

Supported by the Department for Transport, Project Slingshot will result in the manufacture of an airworthy Sling 2 aircraft for cadet and youth flying training and the delivery of Air League flying scholarships.

The project will give MTC Training's apprentices an insight into a career in aerospace and aircraft manufacture, as they gain hands-on experience by building the aircraft assemblies to a professional standard. The assemblies will be shipped to RAF Cosford for final assembly into a complete aircraft. After approval by a light aircraft association inspector the aircraft will take to the skies for its maiden test flight. The aim is that the apprentices who built it will also get the chance to fly in it.

Ian Morrison, CEO of the Air League said: "The Air League Trust, is hugely grateful to its sponsors from Boeing UK, and the Department for Transport, for the very generous funding contribution, which has facilitated this ground-breaking project to build an aircraft from scratch.

“The skills and understanding this project have fostered have already seen past participants enter higher education and excellent skilled jobs, because of their demonstrated experiences and training. This is an excellent example of meaningful cooperation between the Air League Charity, industry, government (the DfT), and premier league education partners.”

Project Slingshot is designed to give participants hands-on experience in aviation manufacture and flight in addition to developing valuable skills in engineering, project management and teamwork. The team has learned about aviation manufacturing quality standards including traceability, record-keeping standards, visual inspections and technical approvals as well as the practical skills of aircraft manufacture.

The team is led by Luke Mullins as senior technical advisor, supported by programme delivery manager James Wagstaff. Both are former technicians in the RAF and the project manager is Shakeela Cumberbatch.

The MTC was founded by the University of Birmingham, Loughborough University, the University of Nottingham and TWI Ltd, with industrial members including some of the UK’s major global manufacturers.

Part of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, supported by Innovate UK, the MTC aims to provide a competitive environment to bridge the gap between university-based research and the development of innovative manufacturing solutions.



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