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Paul Eden

United Kingdom:

BAE Systems supporting the UK national ventilator effort and working to donate 150,000 face shields to the NHS frontline

By Paul Eden.



Since late March, staff in BAE Systems’ Air sector, who normally produce parts for combat aircraft including Eurofighter Typhoon, along with colleagues in the submarines business, have been 3D printing parts for newly designed face shields, as well as sourcing tens of thousands of additional face shields through the supply chain for distribution to the NHS.

Air and technology team employees joined forces to manufacture the company’s first 3D-printed face shields in less than 24 hours; they were with NHS organisations in less than two days.

3D-printed face shieldsIn April, engineers at the company’s Electronic Systems site in Rochester also joined the effort, developing a new face shield design and targeting production of up to 500 face shields per week over a six week period. In total, BAE Systems expects to donate 150,000 face shields to the NHS.

BAE Systems has also been supporting VentilatorChallengeUK, a consortium of companies producing ventilators in the fight against COVID-19. In particular, it has applied its training expertise to the development of instructional materials for those building the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency-approved Penlon ventilator. The VentilatorChallengeUK team comprises experienced engineers familiar with high-precision manufacture, but many are making ventilators for the first time and training is essential.

Charles Jackson, an augmented and virtual reality expert in BAE Systems’ Air sector, whose regular work involves developing Typhoon simulation training for the RAF, used Unreal Engine, an advanced, real-time 3D creation platform developed by Epic Games and used in many popular video games, among them Fortnite, to create an instructional video describing the necessarily rigorous factory acceptance testing required for each ventilator before delivery.

Jackson explained: “We’d already been looking at the graphics capability of cutting-edge video game engines to understand how they could be used to augment our training and simulation capability. Given the urgency for new ventilators, we’ve quickly started producing an instructional video combining live video of the procedures with Unreal Engine graphics.

“Importing the ventilator CAD designs directly into Unreal Engine, combining them with live-action footage of someone performing the ventilator acceptance tests, and coupling the result with BAE Systems’ training know-how, will result in a video that makes it easier for people to learn the test process.

“We hope it will prepare the testers being recruited, so that when they do their formal training they’ll already be familiar with the process and we’ll be able to rapidly train more people to approve equipment and ultimately get it where it’s needed most.”






Paul Eden

A life-long, profoundly passionate aviation enthusiast, Paul E. Eden began writing about aircraft in 1996 and became a freelance aerospace writer and editor in 2003. He says his addiction began with a Matchbox Spitfire model kit and the Ladybird Book of Aircraft, around 1975. Since then, he has written for the Official RAF Annual Review and Salute publications, and currently edits and writes Executive and VIP Aviation International magazine. A regular contributor to a number of specialist publications, including Aerospace, the journal of the Royal Aeronautical Society, and airline, cargo and flight test magazines, he also blogs for Runway Girl Network.

His first book for Bloomsbury, The Official Illustrated History of RAF Search and Rescue, is scheduled for publication in June 2020.

Twitter: @TwoDrones

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BlueSky Business Aviation News | 4th June 2020 | Issue #560



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