Four aerospace specialists have joined the National Aerospace Technology Exploitation Programme (NATEP) to provide expert support and advice to the region’s small and medium sized manufacturers.

The four new technology managers, Malcolm Diplock, Paul Nicholls, Michael Cunliffe and Jeff Allen, are at the top of their professions and bring expertise in materials engineering, electro and mechanical engineering, subcontract part production and research and development (R&D). Natep technology managers

Wolverhampton-based Malcolm Diplock has worked in the aerospace industry for 35 years and throughout this time has been involved with the use and development of materials and their related processing and surface treatments. In recognition of his contribution to aerospace materials engineering, Malcolm was elected as a Fellow of the Institute of Materials, Minerals & Mining in 2014 and gained an MSc in Engineering Business Management from the University of Warwick in 1998. During his career, he has worked in both the UK and US on the development of advanced single crystal and directionally solidified turbine blade materials for use in aero engines.

Malcolm said:

“Over the last 25 years I’ve been working on the actuation equipment used for flight control, landing gears and propeller systems and I’ve been involved in a number of firsts for the aerospace industry.I  helped pioneer the first use of reduced weight composite transmission shafts, and in response to EU REACH legislation, introduced environmentally preferred solutions to replace traditional surface treatments which contained the carcinogen hexavalent chromium. NATEP is a chance to utilise my excellent network of contacts and help others develop industry firsts of their own.”

Based in Northampton, Michael Cunliffe specialises in manufacturing engineering and operations management and brings 27 years of experience in subcontract part production to the team.  An E.I.T.B trained technical apprentice in machining, Michael is now a member of the Chartered Quality Institute and a member of the Chartered Management Institute, with excellent computer-aided design and manufacturing skills including simulation. He’s been responsible for the series production and development of parts for the A380, JSF and Eurofighter. His career also spans the automotive industry, where he accomplished the full vehicle production of the world’s fastest electric racing car in 2014, the Nissan ZEOD RC (Zero Emission On Demand Racing Car) as well as Chevrolet’s world championship winning touring car.

Michael commented:

“I’m looking forward to helping smaller and medium sized companies create better processes and improve their capabilities, ensuring their standards and operations compete with the very best in the world.”

Jeff Allen from Derby joins NATEP from Rolls-Royce, where he was working on the Trent 800 engine and investigating possible applications of Additive Layer Manufacture to aero engine components as a research and development engineer. Prior to that, he was responsible for specifying, implementing and operating bespoke processing equipment for an advanced rechargeable electric cell manufacturing plant, as well as the design, development and provision of specialised plutonium processing equipment. Having achieved his Ph.D in 1980, Jeff was elected as a Member of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers and became a Fellow in 2010.

Jeff observed:

“Having run my own project management consultancy, I understand some of the extra pressures these smaller companies are under and am looking forward to helping them embrace a culture of research and development.”

Based in Lincoln, Paul Nicholls has spent 28 years in the defence sector, specialising in electro and mechanical engineering, working mainly on fast jets including the Tornado, Phantom, Harrier and Jet Provost. He undertook active service in the Falklands and again as part of Desert Storm and Shield as a civilian advisor. During a stint with Bomb Disposal he specialised in weapons development and remotely operated vehicle handling equipment and he has also worked on specialist armament ejections systems and computer guided weapon launch systems. In the Middle East, Paul trained Saudi Officers in mechanical and electrical engineering on Tornado aircraft for the Al Yamamah project. More recently, he has specialised in the development of hardware and software systems for the Defence Information Infrastructure (DII), the MOD’s secure military network.
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Paul added:

“This role with NATEP gives me the chance to combine my training and development skills. Some of the most cutting edge technology and advanced systems are developed for defence, so the chance to bring this experience to the broader aerospace sector is an exciting prospect.”

NATEP Deputy Programme Director Bridget Day remarked: “This is an opportunity for smaller manufacturers to benefit from having highly skilled specialist engineers in their business, without the typical costs of consultancy. We’re very lucky to attract such experienced aerospace professionals, and I think their involvement in the programme proves how truly exciting the NATEP projects can be.

“We now have 23 full and part-time technology managers across the UK and the NATEP team is available to any business who has a great idea for a novel technology. We will help them develop their bid for funding, as well as supporting them during the project with tailored training, if successful. Our final call for funding is open until 14 May 2015, so now really is the time to get involved.”