UK-Italian engineering collaboration reaps its rewards

28 November 2019

A team of British and Italian engineers from Leonardo has been recognised by the Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS) for its work on the AW159 helicopter’s Digital Automatic Flight Control System (DAFCS).

A DAFCS, which provides stabilisation and flight path control, aids pilots by reducing overall workload, allowing more time to have greater awareness of their environment and emerging situations.

Led by Andy Handcock, who is the AFCS Team Lead for the AW159, Lynx and AW101 helicopters, the team received the 2019 RAeS Bronze Team Award in recognition for the step change in capability achieved with the advancement of rotary-wing engineering capability. The RAeS Awards are presented for notable contributions to the advancement of Aerospace, Art, Science and Engineering.

The team’s collective expertise led to a significant increase in performance through the introduction of new functionality to the system, including a Collective Safety Function which protects the aircraft’s engines and transmission whilst preventing inadvertent flight into low terrain. Additionally, a cable hover mode increases safety during an aircraft’s primary role of maritime operations. The team also identified a way to improve fault-finding capabilities, which greatly reduces the time taken for diagnostic activities, freeing up time and resources for the ground maintainers.

Andy said: “Having fully launched the project in April 2014, the team worked with dedication to meet the demanding schedule, achieving first flight within 15 months of the full project launch and reaching final aircraft level certification in mid-2017.

“The success of this project was all down to the partnership, collaboration and very high quality work of our engineers. Working alongside each other at our UK helicopter centre of excellence in Yeovil, the engineers from our UK and Italian departments brought a mixture of skills and experience which are critical to delivering a DAFCS into an air platform. My thanks go to the whole team.”

In addition to the Bronze Team Award, Yeovil-based Senior Project Engineer Daniel Young was also recognised by the RAeS, winning the Alan Marsh Award for the exceptional technical and leadership promise he has exhibited. This has been evident through his contribution to the creation of sophisticated new rotary-wing software technology and in pioneering STEM initiatives in Yeovil.

Daniel’s technical capability was clearly demonstrated during his involvement in the design and development of the innovative DAFCS software for the AW159. He thrives under pressure and excelled when he was given responsibility for creating the DAFCS maintenance functionality, pre-flight test system and cockpit alert system of the AW159.

Daniel joined Leonardo in 2013, having graduated with a First Class MEng degree in Aerospace Engineering with Pilot Studies from the University of Liverpool. He has since become an active young member of the RAeS and volunteers his time towards supporting and promoting the Society at both a local-branch and national-committee level.