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Campaign launched for a new flying classroom and laboratory

Cranfield University has launched a fundraising campaign to replace its ageing Jetstream 31, part of the National Flying Laboratory Centre (NFLC), with a new Saab 340B aircraft.

The campaign is looking to raise £1 million, alongside commitments already made by the University and industry partners, in order to purchase and modify the new aircraft.

No other university in the UK has this capability, with students from 25 universities using the Jetstream, or flying classroom as it is known, as a vital part of their aerospace learning. Flights take students through various lift, drag and pressure tests and the specially-instrumented aircraft can supply real-time data, allowing students to become flight test engineers.

Unfortunately, the Jetstream is ageing and needs increasingly regular repairs, with parts becoming difficult to replace. After an extensive search, Cranfield has identified the Saab 340B as an ideal aircraft to replace the Jetstream. The 340B will provide a larger capacity to accommodate more students on each flight and create new research capabilities, including the potential for more collaboration with other universities and industry partners.

Professor Helen Atkinson, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Aerospace, Transport and Manufacturing, said: “The current Jetstream has done us proud, flying thousands of students and enabling us to conduct research projects. Sadly, we are all too aware that it is time to replace it.

“A replacement aircraft doesn’t come cheaply and, on top of this, we need to make a number of special modifications, in order to turn it from its standard commercial use into a premier research and educational facility with the sensors needed to enable students to receive and analyse flight test data.

“A number of stakeholders who employ graduates, including some of the UK’s leading aerospace companies and many of the universities who fly with us, have already agreed to help us towards our fundraising target – along with the major upfront commitment from Cranfield itself. Now we need our friends and alumni to help us to complete our fundraising campaign for this important national flying laboratory and classroom.”

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