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New UK modular jet trainer development?


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https://theaviationist.com/2021/03/15/british-company-aeralis-developing-a-modular-jet-trainer-supported-by-the-royal-air-force/

Looks a lot like the M346 Master... :(

 

TAB1-Meet-AERALIS-2-768x448.png

https://aeralis.com/2021/02/17/aeralis-agrees-3-year-contract-with-rafs-rapid-capabilities-office/

 

Can such a thing be cost efficient? Modular with alternative wings and engines sounds ambitious...

 

Interesting nevertheless!!

 

 

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Indeed... not sure if modularity is always a good idea, and saves money in the long term. USN tried this with the LCS, but the concept has its drawbacks.

 

Alex

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I've been following this for a little while and had a lecture from the Aeralis team when I was at university. 

 

I think it makes an awful lot of sense the modular construction is necessarily anything new, however the implementation may well be. This may potentially allow the aircraft to be configured quite quickly and easily.

 

Certainly, given the current sub contracted tranining structure, it would be beneficial if a civilian operator had an amount of these aircraft and was able to configure them to a customers requirements.

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Modularity has always been a fascinating concept that proves to be unworkable when you get down to the practical details.  It requires compromises that end up offering unsatisfactory alternatives  to independent designs. whatever the theoretical cost benefits.  One day maybe.

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2 hours ago, alex said:

Indeed... not sure if modularity is always a good idea, and saves money in the long term. USN tried this with the LCS, but the concept has its drawbacks.

 

Alex

Worked with the Gem engine 👌 

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40 minutes ago, Graham Boak said:

Modularity has always been a fascinating concept that proves to be unworkable when you get down to the practical details.  It requires compromises that end up offering unsatisfactory alternatives  to independent designs. whatever the theoretical cost benefits.  One day maybe.

As I said in a previous post depends on what your modulizing ...Gem engine was a great successful example.....you could say that crowsnest is the latest example but role fitting an ASW cab to an ASaCS version seems to be difficult...i could be wrong we will see ...Role fitting MX15 from one sea king to another was never quick or simple 

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I assume the modularity was in the development/production, but not in the operating? In this case, yes, it makes sense.

 

Alex

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I don't think that the kind of modularity you get in an engine, whether the Gem or the Adour, is quite what is intended here.  The Gem, after all, could not be fitted with an afterburner and fitted into a Jaguar, nor had a large fan attached to the front and fitted onto a 747.  All aircraft are modular in one sense, in that one wing could be taken off and another identical example put on (OK, some had one-piece wings,,,) But having an aircraft that (for example) has a straight wing as a primary trainer and a swept wing as an advanced trainer, then a single-seater nose on the front but reheat on the back as an attack aircraft - no.  North American tried that with the NA.16 (later Texan/Harvard) from primary trainer up to fighter, but despite considerable sales success in intermediate roles, never quite made it at the extremes.  There is overlap between adjacent roles, but this can't be stretched too far.

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Modularity is not necessarily a new thing and is a well proven concept in many areas, including aviation.. afterall most modern liners are modular in a limited sense, with different fuselage lengths and engine options possible from the same basic design.

Here the concept seems to be exploited further and is indeed something quite interesting, but I'm speaking of modularity at production level, that is something that can work pretty well if all design aspects of the various possible configurations are properly developed. with such an approach the manufactuter could be able to offer what are afterall almost different aircraft types with a much cheaper production system compared to having more types in their catalogue.

Of course it still remains debatable if this is then commercially useful, as in every case where the presence of a "downgraded" variant of an item can become a threat to the commercial success of the original, and generally more profiteable, configuration.

At the same time I can see little use in having a single aircraft that can actually be modified to radically different configurations by the user to suit different requirements at different times. Generally air forces have preferred to have types that can perform different missions without having to change anything to the original platform, what benefit could they have from say moving from a straight wing to a swept wing configuration ? Even assuming that the idea is to use the type for both basic and advanced training, it would make more sense for an air force to buy some in a configuration and some in the other, at least here the modular design would allow benefits in terms of spare parts and service if the two are based on a common modular design

 

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I get the feeling that some people are getting hung up over the word "modular", as has been pointed out, many current aircraft are designed in a modular fashion, AW101 is a good example where there is a main fuselage which can be fitted with the required tail - however, in this case, it is a fundamentally part of the aircraft and cannot be reconfigured quickly.

 

Rather than modularity, the really interesting point is configurability. For example, how quickly could a wing change be performed to take it from a straight wing introductory trainer, to a high speed advanced trainer? Despite this, I don't believe there would ever be the need to rapidly reconfigure the aircraft (i.e. in a day, or even in a week), however, if a complete wing change could be carried out by the operator, perhaps in second line maintenance (rather than by the OEM), then it would allow great flexibility.

 

We can see currently that the training services for the Royal Air Force are carried out by a sub-contracted company that owns the aircraft. If that same company is also bidding on training services for overseas nations, then having one aircraft, with common parts, but bespoke capability is extremely useful.

 

The Boeing 787 engine option is an incredibly good demonstration of a rapidly configurable design, it can take GE GenX or RR Trent 1000's and it is as simple as taking one engine off, and putting another on (I also believe they have to change some options in the aircraft settings). On that last thought, I'm just chuckling to myself envisaging someone scrolling through an aircraft settings menu (like on a smart phone) and accidentally changing the language settings!

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Some Cessna 152s would be good start.  I know a chap who has been in the FAA (employed to be trained as a pilot) for two years so far and still waiting to fly (any) aircraft.  I believe he has been allowed to sit in one to keep the interest going!

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Well if it's British and it flies, I approve. Our aircraft industry isn't what it used to be, perhaps we can get back a bit of what we had.... (and I'll be looking for a job in aerospace in a few years once I finish uni)

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4 hours ago, Graham Boak said:

I don't think that the kind of modularity you get in an engine, whether the Gem or the Adour, is quite what is intended here.  The Gem, after all, could not be fitted with an afterburner and fitted into a Jaguar, nor had a large fan attached to the front and fitted onto a 747.  All aircraft are modular in one sense, in that one wing could be taken off and another identical example put on (OK, some had one-piece wings,,,) But having an aircraft that (for example) has a straight wing as a primary trainer and a swept wing as an advanced trainer, then a single-seater nose on the front but reheat on the back as an attack aircraft - no.  North American tried that with the NA.16 (later Texan/Harvard) from primary trainer up to fighter, but despite considerable sales success in intermediate roles, never quite made it at the extremes.  There is overlap between adjacent roles, but this can't be stretched too far.

Hmm I guess it is down to perception I didnt say you could fit a gem to jaguar just as this aircrafts wing cant be fitted to a hawk ....gem was modular so that small ships flights or for the Army Light air detachment LAD could replace modular engine sections rather than change a whole donkey awesome concept whilst detached away something someone somewhere has forgotten.....aircraft maintainence is kinda over complex now .

Cant say for ardour....I know its a quick removal from the airframe just like the Safran RTM322 is plug and play on Apache ....is it truly modular ....dunno I'm not a Grubber 😄

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3 hours ago, Adam Poultney said:

Well if it's British and it flies, I approve. Our aircraft industry isn't what it used to be, perhaps we can get back a bit of what we had.... (and I'll be looking for a job in aerospace in a few years once I finish uni)

 

Still one of the best and most diverse in the world! Although it will be very interesting to see how they intend to manufacture these, whether BAE SYSTEMS will carry out the manufactiring in the UK or if it will be done outside the country. 

 

Also, if you need any tips/hints with job/uni advice etc PM me - I'm only a few years out of uni and in the industry now (most companies are absolutely desperate for high quality graduates - but that doesn't make the competition any easier)!

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Modularity is a nice idea, but never works fully in practice, as too many people have too many fingers in pies, all wanting their big share.

 

 

It also only works if you want lots of aircraft, in this case. Remind me when the next cost cutting exercise is and how large our air force is?

 

I have seen this so many times in the car industry, and it never works. Its a complete waste of money trying it

 

Anyway, why not just buy the M345 /M346, which is what it looks like?

 

Andy

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1 hour ago, Red Dot said:

 

Anyway, why not just buy the M345 /M346, which is what it looks like?

 

Andy

Sounds like a good idea!! 😉😊.

Wasting money has never been a problem where the MOD is concerned.

Nimrod AEW1 and the two new White Elephant class carriers spring to mind.

However, (semi) joking apart, all one needs to do is dangle the words "cost effective" ( a k a cheapness/down to a price) in front of the bean counters and, they will be all over this idea - whether or not it actually works!

John.

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2 hours ago, Red Dot said:

Modularity is a nice idea, but never works fully in practice, as too many people have too many fingers in pies, all wanting their big share.

 

 

It also only works if you want lots of aircraft, in this case. Remind me when the next cost cutting exercise is and how large our air force is?

 

Actually, the more aircrafts you have, the less need for a modular system. If you need to train a few hundred pilots per year, it makes sense to have a dedicated fleet of basic/advanced/operational trainers. And if you need to train only a few pilots, you meet up with friends and send them to a common pilot school (where they most likely have a fleet of dedicated aircrafts).

 

So, what is again the use case for a modular trainier?🤔

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Seems like quite a good idea to me. AERALIS seem to be very much comparing the idea to the aircraft 'families' seen in the airliner industry, which as far as I'm aware do a reasonable job of keeping costs down across design and production, as well as keeping spare parts supply as simple as possible.

 

It doesn't particularly seem to me to be as new an idea as they're suggesting though! The Spitfire was available with different engines and wings for different roles all the way back in WWII, and more recent military aircraft have similarly tried the common airframe approach to producing aircraft for different roles, with varying levels of success. I suppose the success or failure of the idea will really depend on how much thought they've put into it - if they do keep the design simple and don't try to push it too far, I can see it being quite an effective approach, but if they get carried away it could be a different story!

 

17 hours ago, wellsprop said:

(most companies are absolutely desperate for high quality graduates - but that doesn't make the competition any easier)!

Would you mind explaining this a bit more please? I'm probably just being thick, but I can't quite figure out how those two aren't mutually exclusive!

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4 hours ago, Red Dot said:

I have seen this so many times in the car industry, and it never works. Its a complete waste of money trying it

 

The VW MQB platform is probably the most successful modular car platform ever developed https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volkswagen_Group_MQB_platform

 

If you have a VW, Audi, Skoda or SEAT, it probably has an MQB platform. Multiple cars can be made from the same platform despite the different wheelbase/track and different external panels. Moreover, they can all use the same components, just with a different bit of trim and a different badge on them.

 

Automotive design is based entirely around speed and efficiency and it is seriously good at it (aerospace could learn a lot).

 

Modularity isn't new, it's used extensively in automotive, and it's used in aerospace (see my previous AW101 example). Though not totally modular, the Airbus A320 family extensively uses the family concept where there are common parts and commonality in designs one part for example with have multiple variants or different sizes to fit different aircraft. There are also lots of identical sub-assemblies that fit different aircraft.

 

As I said in my previous post, the difference with the Aeralis aircraft is the ability for the aircraft to be easily configured. It's easier for marketing to say "a new innovative modular design" than it is to say "the aircraft can be easily and quickly configured to meet customer specific requirements".

 

 

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43 minutes ago, ChocolateCrisps said:

Would you mind explaining this a bit more please? I'm probably just being thick, but I can't quite figure out how those two aren't mutually exclusive!

 

It's got to a strange point in aerospace recruitment where, despite huge applicant numbers, it is hard to find someone with enough depth of understanding to fill a role (partly because the industry has lost so many highly experienced engineers through retirement).

 

About 800 graduates applied to the graduate vacancies (for 10 people) this year. That's 80 people with engineering degrees, but a degree isn't enough - graduates need to have the wider understanding of aerospace and aviation as well as understand that not everything can be done with an equation or software (yesterday I was on the shop floor inspecting greasy aircraft parts, today I'm running computer simulations).

 

To put it into context, when I had my interview, the interviewer (my now manager) asked almost nothing about my engineering degree (and the grade I got wasn't relevant). I got asked far more about why I wanted to be an engineer, why I wanted to be in aerospace and what I did in the Air Trainings Corps.

 

On top of having a degree, a successful applicant will need to demonstrate; an interest in aerospace, knowledge of the aerospace industry (and company specific knowledge), evidence of applying themselves to challenges outside of their degree, an understanding of where the aerospace aerospace industry is heading.

Getting all of that from anyone isn't easy (hence there are so many vacancies across aerospace). I'm two and a half years into my career and I still have huge amounts to learn.

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Many aircraft are modular, as has been mentioned. But once they are built they generally remain that way. I think it unlikely that any operator will convert it from a basic trainer to advanced trainer and so on at anything other than maintenance, if it all. I do not think that the number of man hours would allow it to happen at first or second level maintenance.

 

I'm more than happy for a British competitor to the the new generation of advanced trainers, particularly as BAE Systems do not appear to be that interested, but I am not sure that a modular concept is the answer. The expression 'jack of all trades, master of none' springs to mind.

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1 hour ago, Truro Model Builder said:

 

 

The expression 'jack of all trades, master of none' springs to mind.

There’s a reason the A10 is the best at what it does

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The modularity also has the drawback of needing to buy various sets of wings, engines and cockpits  for one single plane in order to benefit from this.... £££! 

And you need to maintain all those!

 

Is there a common "master" component like the center section?

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23 hours ago, alex said:

Actually, the more aircrafts you have, the less need for a modular system. If you need to train a few hundred pilots per year, it makes sense to have a dedicated fleet of basic/advanced/operational trainers. And if you need to train only a few pilots, you meet up with friends and send them to a common pilot school (where they most likely have a fleet of dedicated aircrafts).

 

So, what is again the use case for a modular trainier?🤔

Exactly. We don't have, or need, lots of aircraft

 

To answer Wellsprop, yes the MQB is a modular concept and a common platform, but it is not a modular vehicle.

 

VAG is very good at using common designs of components, but there are very few used across all ranges. They may be similar, but they are not identical eg a switch may be common mechanically, but the front is different, therefore requiring two part numbers.

 

They also make upwards of a million vehicle a year and need to use this approach to keep costs under.control.

 

The aircraft industry works in 100's at best, and a modular concept in this case is a waste of money to develop. 

 

The marketing mentioned here implies that an aircraft could easily swap wings or engines, which frankly is an utterly ridiculous notion.

 

Andy

 

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