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Podcast Ep. #29 – Samson Sky is Building the First Truly Useful Flying Car

Sam Bousfield is the founder and CEO of Samson Sky, a company that is developing the first truly useful flying car. Sam is an architect by training, but a passion for aviation led him to work on a supersonic aircraft with Boeing. Out of this experience came the idea of building a flying car called the Switchblade. Harking from an architectural background, Sam approached the problem of designing a flying car slightly differently. Rather than asking the question of how you could make a car...


Podcast Ep. #28 – Natilus: the Startup Building Large Autonomous Cargo Drones

Aleksey Matyushev is the co-founder and CEO of Natilus, a startup headquartered in San Francisco. Natilus has set out to reduce global air freight costs through the use of large autonomous drones, and has moved quickly over the last couple of years to develop a sea-plane prototype to serve as a technology demonstrator. The engineers at Natilus are now moving ahead at full steam to design a land-based freighter drone based on a blended-wing body. As the name suggests, a blended aircraft has...


Podcast Ep. #27 – A Masterclass on Friction Welding with TWI’s Bertrand Flipo

In this episode I am speaking to Bertrand Flipo from The Welding Institute in Cambridge, UK. TWI Ltd has a long history of innovation in welding research, having been established as the British Welding Research Association in 1946. TWI Ltd is a world leader in research on friction welding and has been at the forefront of many modern friction welding processes. Briefly put, friction welding is a joining technique that does not melt the parts to be joined. Instead, two components are rubbed...


Podcast Ep. #26 – How AERALIS is Designing a New Family of Military Trainer Aircraft

On this episode I am speaking to Luca Leone who is the Head of Programme of AERALIS, a British startup designing a new class of military trainer and aerobatic jet aircraft. AERALIS have set out to re-invigorate the UK aircraft manufacturing sector with a military trainer that provides an exceptional pilot training experience. AERALIS' design is purposely modular meaning that a basic and an advanced version of the training aircraft are based on one common platform. This reduces costs in...


Podcast Ep. #25 – Vertical Aerospace CCO Michael Darcy on the UK’s First Full-Scale eVTOL and the Growing Urban Mobility Market

Michael Darcy is the Chief Commercial Officer of the British eVTOL (electric vertical-takeoff-and-landing) company Vertical Aerospace. Vertical Aerospace has set out to change the way we fly short-haul distances and to reduce the time required for end-to-end journeys. Their vision is to develop an intercity air taxi service that gives customers the freedom to fly from local neighbourhood directly to the final destination. To achieve this, Vertical has assembled a world-class team with...


Podcast Ep. #24 – Veronica Foreman on Small Satellites and Virgin Orbit’s Air-Launched Rocket System

Veronica Foreman is a payload engineer at the small-satellite launch provider Virgin Orbit. Before starting her career at Virgin Orbit, Veronica earned several academic accolades including an Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Award at Georgia Tech, and a Best Masters Thesis award at MIT. What I find especially impressive about her Masters work on small-satellite constellations is that Veronica considered both the design of constellations, as well as the economic and policy challenges to...


Podcast Ep. #23 – Samy Libsig on eXalt Aircraft’s Vision of Designing a New Breed of Sport Airplanes

Samy Libsig is one of the founders of the sport aircraft startup eXalt Aircraft Inc. eXalt currently comprises a team of three engineers that are bringing a unique combination of fresh design thinking and engineering experience to the world of sport airplanes. The vision of eXalt is to turn the sky into a playground with an aircraft that puts the pilot's flying experience in the foreground. This means an aircraft which is fun to fly, economical, maintenance friendly, and environmentally...


Podcast Ep. #22 – Mark Crouchen on Rockwood Composites and Manufacturing Complex Composite Components

Mark Crouchen is the managing director of Rockwood Composites, a company in the UK that specialises in manufacturing complex composite components using compression and bladder moulding. These manufacturing processes use fibre mats of carbon fibre, glass fibre, Kevlar, or any other material, which are pre-impregnated with a resin matrix and then placed in a mould, where they are cured at elevated temperature with the addition of external or internal pressure. The team at Rockwood has been...


Podcast Ep. #21 – Prof. Paul Withey on Single-Crystal Superalloys for Jet Engine Turbines

Paul Withey is the Professor of Casting at the School of Metallurgy and Materials of the University of Birmingham, UK. Before joining the University of Birmingham in 2018, Paul worked at Rolls Royce for 21 years developing new superalloys and manufacturing processes for gas turbine components. As an Engineering Associate Fellow, Paul was a member of a select group of the top 100 specialist engineers across all engineering disciplines within Rolls Royce, and in 2015, Paul and his team were...


Podcast Ep. #20 – Airbus Engineer Oliver Family on the E-Fan X Demonstrator

Oliver Family is the Overall Aircraft Design Leader of the Airbus E-Fan X demonstrator. The E-Fan X is a hybrid-electric technology demonstrator being developed by Airbus, Rolls-Royce and Siemens based on a British Aerospace 146 regional airliner. The driver behind the E-Fan X demonstrator is that current aircraft designs have converged to a near-optimum, and with existing technologies, it is difficult to meet the stringent sustainability goals in terms of CO2/NOX emissions and reductions in...


Podcast Ep. #19 – Manuel Schleiffelder on the Hound Project and Metal Matrix Composites for Rockets

Today I am speaking to Manuel Schleiffelder, an aerospace engineer based in Vienna, Austria. Manuel has a background in designing and building experimental rockets with the student space team of the Technical University in Vienna, known as the Hound Project. I spoke to Manuel after he returned from a trip to the Black Rock Desert, where the Vienna space team tested their newest two-stage experimental rocket. Manuel has a very broad background in space engineering having worked on projects...


Podcast Ep. #18 – Prof. Wenbin Yu on the Structure Genome

On this episode I am speaking to Wenbin Yu, who is a professor at the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics of Purdue University and CTO of AnalySwift, a provider of simulation software for composites. Wenbin has achieved many accolades in both the academic world and in the private sector, and is a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. His specialty lies in multi-scale modelling of materials and structures, a topic that we delve into throughout this episode. Material...


Podcast Ep. #17 – Alba Orbital Engineer Andrew Dunn on PocketQubes

On this episode of the Aerospace Engineering Podcast I am speaking to Andrew Dunn who is an engineer at the satellite company Alba Orbital in Glasgow, Scotland. Alba Orbital is in the business of building PocketQubes, which are miniaturised satellites mainly used for space science, Earth imaging and space exploration. As the name suggests, PocketQubes are pocket-sized, usually around 5 cm (2 in) cubed and weighing no more than 180 grams. What is more, PocketQubes are typically assembled...


Podcast Ep. #16 – Max Haot and Launcher’s Ten-year Journey to Deliver Small Satellites to Orbit

On this episode I am speaking to Max Haot, who is the founder of Launcher, a rocket startup based out of Brooklyn, NY. Launcher was founded in early 2017 and is on a ten-year journey to deliver small satellites to orbit. More specifically, Launcher plans to deliver payloads of up to 300 kg into low-earth orbit cheaper than anyone else in the growing small launcher market; a market specialising on small satellites that will deliver GPS, internet services and earth imaging in the near future....


Podcast Ep. #15 – Nick Sills on Contra-Rotating Electric Propulsion

On this episode I am speaking to Nick Sills who is the founder of Contra Electric Propulsion Ltd. Nick’s engineering background is in developing underwater propulsion systems for the offshore oil and gas industry. He has designed products ranging from a hydraulically powered excavator for pipeline route trenching, to the world’s biggest deep water excavator. He received a Queen's Award for Technological Achievement for the "Jet Prop" tool, a 5 m diameter propeller that is powered by ejecting...


Podcast Ep. #14 – Dufour Aerospace Co-Founder Thomas Pfammatter on the aEro2 VTOL Electric Aircraft

On this episode I am speaking to Thomas Pfammatter, who is the co-founder of the Swiss electric aircraft startup Dufour Aerospace. Dufour is currently designing an electric aircraft with vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) capabilities for the urban and rural transport market. The promise of their current aircraft, the aEro 2, is that with VTOL capabilities it can take-off and land pretty much anywhere, which can considerably reduce travel times, especially to places that are difficult to...


Podcast Ep. #13 – Skyrora’s Lead Engineer Robin Hague on Scotland’s New Satellite Launch Capability

Robin Hague is the Lead Engineer at the rocket startup Skyrora based in Edinburgh, Scotland. The goal of Skyrora is to provide a dedicated launch vehicle for small satellites. It has never been cheaper to build small satellites that provide imaging and communication services, and this sector of the space economy is expected to grow rapidly over the coming years. The UK is a world leader in the small satellite business—with Glasgow in Scotland building more satellites than any other city in...


Podcast Ep. #12 – The Perlan Project: Soaring to the Edge of Space

This episode features an in-depth look at the Perlan Project. The mission of the Perlan Project is to fly an engineless aircraft to the edge of space, in this case, by taking advantage of an aerodynamic phenomenon known as wave lift. Not only is soaring to 90,000 feet an audacious goal, but on top of that, the Perlan Project is a worldwide collaborative project run entirely by aviation enthusiasts, scientists, engineers and adventurous pilots. No one has ever soared to the edge of space in a...


Podcast Ep. #11 – Dr Priyanka Dhopade on Jet Engine Optimisation and Women in Engineering

Priyanka Dhopade received her PhD from the University of New South Wales in Canberra, Australia and was the recipient of the Zonta Amelia Earhart Fellowship award, awarded annually to the 35 most outstanding female aerospace PhD students worldwide. Since 2013 she has been researching the thermodynamics of jet engines in the Thermofluids Institute at Oxford University. Priyanka is an expert in computational fluid dynamics modelling of heat transfer, aerodynamics and aero-elasticity in jet...


Podcast Ep. #10 – Kitty Hawk Roboticist Dr Mark Cutler on UAVs, Machine Learning and Personalised Flying

Dr Mark Cutler has a PhD in Robotics and Autonomous Systems from MIT. He has researched multiple aspects of UAV technology—from designing and building his own novel quadrotor for aerobatic flight to developing machine learning algorithms for autonomous systems. Mark is currently working for the California-based startup Kitty Hawk backed by Google founder Larry Page. At Kitty Hawk, Mark is applying his expertise in rotorcraft to create the next generation of vehicles for everyday flight....