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Welsh university celebrates double success in aerospace competition

Representatives of the two victorious Swansea teams

Swansea University students claimed the honours at a unique challenge designed to celebrate the talents of aerospace engineers of the future.

This year’s IT FLIES competition was hosted for a fourth year by Swansea University and the two home teams ended up as joint winners after a gruelling day in front of industry experts.

IT FLIES is a student aircraft design and handling competition run each year in the USA and the UK and organised by Merlin Flight Simulation Group.

The Swansea teams, from the Faculty of Science and Engineering  designed an aerial firefighting aircraft capable of carrying and dropping 2000kg of water or fire-retardant material, while having the capability to deploy smoke jumpers and dire fighting equipment.

They were competing against students from the University of South Wales, the University of Manchester and Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences.  Entries from the visiting teams included a Wings for Aid UAV, a 4th generation fighter jet aircraft, and a supersonic business jet.

Each team gave a 10-minute project presentation, followed by their aircraft designs being flown and assessed by the Test Pilots on one of Swansea University’s MP521 simulators.

The Swansea team led by Liam Maloney also won the prize for the best project presentation with a supersonic business jet design by Adam Cleaver from USW claiming the prize for the most innovative design.

Dr David Philpott judged the presentations and the test pilots were Gordon McClymont and Rhys Williams. The winners were presented with their prizes by Chris Neal, managing director of Merlin Flight Simulation Group.

Marion Neal, from Merlin, said: “We were delighted to see that entries were as varied as ever, and of a very high standard this year. It was great to give the students the opportunity to expand their knowledge of flight and to learn from our experienced test pilots.”

Swansea University’s head of aerospace engineering Professor Ben Evans said: “We are very proud of the aerospace education we offer and were more than happy to host the competition once again this year.

“This was a very close-run contest but we are thrilled that the Swansea teams put up such a good performance. However, we hope that all the students who took part were inspired by the experience and will continue to on their journey in the aerospace industry.”