For Heathrow UTC students, the sky’s the limit

The students are putting their engineering skills to the test by building their own two-seater Sherwood Ranger bi-plane

Students at Heathrow Aviation Engineering UTC are reaching for the skies as they take part in a project to build their own two-seater Sherwood Ranger light bi-plane. The project, which is being supported by the Light Aircraft Association, is seeing teams of students work to build the plane from scratch, with the ultimate goal of seeing their aircraft take off.

The project began in January (2018) and seven students are currently being trained as project leaders. They will then work with smaller groups to manufacture the aircraft to the standards required by the Light Aircraft Association, who will carry out regular inspections of the manufactured sections.

Ian Wilkins, Assistant Principal at Heathrow UTC and lead member of staff for the project, explained: “Our students are delighted to get started on building their own plane. They are honoured to be the first students to take part and committed to devoting several hours each week to – literally – getting the project off the ground.”

The early stages of the build are already underway

Heathrow UTC envisages that, while the project may take several years to complete, it will allow a large number of students to take part and develop vital practical and soft skills that will transfer to the workplace. Ian continued: “There are so many different practical skills involved in shaping the plane’s components and constructing it, but there are other skills, too: working together as a team, being responsible for carefully checking one another’s work, having the confidence to question each other. The level of patience required is phenomenal and, as one student remarked: ‘Almost good enough isn’t good enough – it has got to be perfect!’”

Wayne Edwards, Principal at Heathrow UTC, commented: “There is a great sense of energy and enthusiasm about this project, which has such a broad appeal to our students as they develop their engineering skills. We are grateful for the support of the Light Aircraft Association in making this a reality.”

Heathrow UTC will be recording the progress of the project to build their own plane – you can follow their story on Twitter @heathrowUTC.

Heathrow UTC will be holding an Open Evening on Wednesday 21 February from 5.30-7.30pm where prospective students and their families can learn more about the ‘Build A Plane’ project and find out how Heathrow Aviation Engineering UTC gives its students a unique and unrivalled edge for employment in the engineering sector. You can register for the Open Evening here: