71(IR) Helping Bloodhound to the ‘Fin’ish

FS Adam Davies reports on 71 (Inspection and Repair) Sqn’s involvement with Project BLOODHOUND.

Project BLOODHOUND is a global engineering adventure, using a 1,000 mph world land speed record attempt to inspire the next generation by bringing science, technology, engineering and mathematics to life in the most exciting way possible.

This project is not just about building a car quicker than a jet fighter or the bragging rights to the world land speed record. It is a showcase for British engineering talent, a talent which quite rightly includes the skills of the Armed Forces and, in particular, the Royal Air Force.

71(IR) Sqn was initially approached last year by Wg Cdr Andy Green, the BLOODHOUND driver, about taking part in assembling the supersonic car. A few months ago, the OC and I were onsite at the Project HQ in Bristol to agree our involvement, clarifying the personnel selection criteria and putting the BLOODHOUND management at ease regarding the capability of our technicians. One of 71(IR) Sqn’s principal roles is to repair damaged structure on UK fixed wing military aircraft globally. As this car has more in common with a fighter aircraft than any automobile (it is capable of travelling faster than a Typhoon at ground level) the skills required to build  parts of the car are an exact match with those we employ.

Richard Noble, BLOODHOUND Director, explained: “Getting hold of the engineering skills required to build something like that is incredibly hard in civvy street, so we’ve been incredibly lucky to get all this help from 71 Sqn.”

Through a rolling programme, from the beginning of March over a period of three to four months, 71 Sqn has embedded a team of four Aircraft Technicians to assist in the construction of the floor of the supersonic car, its rear suspension supporting structure and the distinctive fin. Working alongside the civilian employees, and a REME detachment, our technicians have brought a wealth of experience and skill. In fact, the tail fin has been  redesigned several times following our involvement and constructive feedback.

Wing Cdr Green, a former fast jet pilot and driver of BLOODHOUND, added: “71 Squadron does this for its day job. Flying jet fighters, I’ve relied on their talents in the past and they’re now using the same world class skill to create the BLOODHOUND fin.”

The team is enjoying using its skills in a different arena; surrounded by the incredible technology it’s hard not to feel inspired! A once in a generation opportunity, it’s a great way to champion the work of our technicians and highlight our potential. It provides something that’s tangible for the British public to be able to see what RAF aircraft technicians do on a daily basis.

Sgt Matt Bradley is our Team Leader on site. When asked about the project, he said: “What a privilege to be selected to represent 71(IR) Sqn and the RAF on such a high profile project. It’s kind of surreal; I’m working alongside some of the leading engineers in their fields, with such diverse backgrounds, from Formula 1 to aerospace to rockets. It’s mind boggling! This is state of the art engineering, to a degree unchartered territory, who wouldn’t want to be part