Apprentices at MTC Training, part of the Manufacturing Technology Centre, are celebrating the completion of an ambitious initiative that has given them the chance to build components for a lightweight aircraft.
Project Slingshot, created by The Air League, opens the doors for promising engineers and gives them a taste of what it is like to be an engineer in aerospace and aircraft manufacturing. The opportunity to explore the aerospace working environment is supported by the Department for Transport and industry players including Royal Air Force Cosford, Aston University Engineering Academy and Boeing UK.
The final stage of the project saw apprentices mount the fuel tanks, a major component of the wings structure, to the aircraft’s wings and close out the top skins, ensuring a fully completed assembly, compliant with all of the quality controls and regulations for light aircraft.
As a result of Project Slingshot the apprentices have developed key technical skills including inspection methods, safety measures, tool control and assembly techniques, which are transferable across all manufacturing and engineering sectors. In addition, they gained soft skills such as project management, teamwork and communication.
MTC apprentice Saul Redgrave said, “Project Slingshot has been really beneficial for me. It’s given me valuable hands-on experience and was a great opportunity for me to work with my classmates as a team to try and achieve the end goal, just like I will throughout my career. Now, we’ll get to see our hard work come to life when the aircraft takes flight! I know that this accomplishment will help me stand out from the crowd when it comes to applying for further learning opportunities and new roles.”
The test pilot for the project, retired Royal Air Force Air Commodore Alistair Seymour, said he was impressed by the project.
“Throughout this initiative, the apprentices have shown real creativity, logic and a keen eye for detail – everything that we need our future technicians and engineers to demonstrate in order to give pilots the utmost confidence in their aircraft when flying. All of those involved are now able to say they have contributed to the build of an airworthy aircraft at this early stage in their career, which is a fantastic achievement.
“Not only has it been a fun and engaging way to inspire the learners, it’s also been a pleasure to work with the next generation, give them an insight into what it’s like to be a member of the Royal Air Force and share my own experiences more broadly within the air and space sector with them. I hope they have found it as rewarding as I have!” he said.
The Project Slingshot activity was admired by Ofsted inspectors at MTC Training’s recent Ofsted assessment, in which an overall achievement of “Good” was achieved, with “Outstanding” awarded for two key judgment areas – “Personal Development” and “Behaviour and Attitudes”.
Following the awards Ian Morrison, CEO of The Air League, said, “Project Slingshot continues to have a transformational impact upon the next generation of aspirational aerospace engineers, and I’m thrilled with the success of the scheme at the MTC Training.
“Our focus has always been to transform lives through aviation right across the country, particularly regions that have less access to opportunities like this. So it is fantastic that this particular scheme saw apprentices get such hugely useful and meaningful hands-on experience on the aircraft wing structures, which has prepared them fabulously for a variety of future engineering career pathways.
“With this experience, along with the many important management and soft-skills apprentices will have learnt, I’m hopeful that these apprentices will leave the scheme energised and enthusiastic about further pursuing a successful career in aerospace and engineering.”
The assemblies have been shipped to RAF Cosford for final assembly into a complete aircraft. Once assessed as airworthy, the aircraft will take to the skies for its maiden test flight.