71(Inspection And Repair) Squadron Repair Design Authority (RDA)

Reformed at RAF Wittering following relocation of 71(IR) Squadron from RAF St Athan, the RDA is a small civilian department that provides repair and minor structural modification design for any Ministry of Defence owned fixed wing aircraft.

Led by Graham Hill, Head of Design and Compliance Verification Engineer, the team comprises four other key personnel: Squadron Leader Adam Troughton, Officer Commanding 71 (IR) Squadron, who provides the final approval signature for all certified designs; and three designers, Neil Burgess, David Brackpool and Stephen Hussey. They are supported by a team of IT specialists who maintain their computer-aided design systems, a training and support team, and often utilise the skills of graduate trainees, providing them with a platform to develop their own design skills.

The RDA can be called upon to design repairs or service modifications for any type of fixed wing aircraft. Since gaining approval from the Military Aviation Authority in 2016, they have been involved in a variety of tasks, including repairs to a Tornado airbrake bay beam, Hawk nose cone repair and repairs to a Spitfire wing skin. They have also been involved in training exercises to repair composite structures on A400M. The RDA’s scope of approval was expanded in 2018 to include aircraft service modification design work and composite repair, leading to their appointment as a limited Air Systems Design Organisation by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, and work in designing supporting structures for communications modifications on its Spitfires and Hurricanes. Having been recently asked to become involved in independent technical evaluation of designs carried out by other organisations for the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, the team is hoping to offer this service to other aircraft delivery teams in future.

Approved by the Military Aviation Authority, the team’s designs are measured against national and international standards as well as data from the original manufacturers of the aircraft. Each task includes design drawings, certificate of design, safety assessment, compliance documents and stress analysis. Stress analysis must follow tried and tested techniques used in the aerospace industry and a library of authorised texts written by engineers with extensive experience in aerospace design. Great care must be taken with the design to ensure that the new design matches the original structure. Before the design work starts, designers take photographs, sketches, rubbings and measurements of the aircraft before using a variety of computer-aided tools to create three-dimensional models to allow trial fits on the aircraft before manufacture of the real part goes ahead.

The team are recruiting experienced engineers to fill their two vacant posts and are planning on taking on trainee designers in order to work on a wider range of aircraft and introduce new technology such as 3D scanning. If you are interested in this type of work, posts will be advertised via the Civil Service jobs website. For an informal chat, please contact Graham Hill on 01780 417658 or by email at graham.hill112@mod.gov.uk