I’ve worked in the industry for 19 years, at the same location in Birmingham, UK.
A few years ago, each of our electronic units was very slightly different. With each new design we changed things to use the latest electronics, making each version very slightly different from the last. Technology was developing so quickly we had reliability issues that made us re-think our design.
In 2011, we won the Henry Royce award. Taking our inspiration from a well-known brand of plastic building block, we designed a system that used common circuit blocks. We started to group components differently, to get the best design in terms of electronic functionality and are now using them right across our engine range. If you look at any of our newer engines, they now have the same electronics. They may have different components, but essentially they’re the same.
We control the type and number of components we use. For example, within the Trent 700 there are over 8,000 components made up of 1,000 different types. So, when we looked at the Trent XWB, we already had a list of ready-made electronics, with a proven service history. Within the Trent XWB there are 14,000 components, taken from a list of less than 300 different types.
We do the same verification, but know that it will pass any tests, making the process quick, easy and cost-effective. All of the component blocks are compatible with automated assembly technology, giving us exemplary performance and reliability. We’ve simplified the supply chain, reduced our costs, and brought a level of consistency to our electronics that we’ve not seen before.
I have a deep connection to what I do, so, when I see something that I’d designed hurtle down the runway and leave the ground, I have butterflies in my stomach. I feel excited, concerned, worried and proud all at the same time.
My aim now is to take everything we’ve learned and apply it to the Trent 7000 to make sure it has a flawless process that focuses on the technology we need.
Away from work, I play the piano and run a 1950 American Ford that I bought when I was working in Los Angeles.