University of Glasgow blown away by Ministerial wind tunnel visit

Published: 24 February 2016

The Scottish Government’s Minister for Business, Energy and Tourism, Fergus Ewing MSP, has officially opened the University of Glasgow’s upgraded wind tunnel facilities.

The Scottish Government’s Minister for Business, Energy and Tourism, Fergus Ewing MSP, officially opened the University of Glasgow’s upgraded wind tunnel facilities and infrastructure at an event today (Wednesday 24 February).

Based at Acre Road in Maryhill, the National Wind Tunnel and Testing Facility is the University’s hub for aerospace engineering research, development and teaching.

Professor Kostas Kontis discusses the National Wind Tunnel and Testing Facility

A series of research projects set to get underway at the facility will help to create greener, faster and safer transportation, as well as new technologies for renewables and infrastructure. Further projects, funded by the European Space Agency, will help to develop spacecraft capable of exploring the cosmos.

A team of researchers from the University’s School of Engineering showed the Minister around the facility, which is the only site in the UK offering an integrated capability for research and industry to test and simulate vehicles and technologies in subsonic, transonic, supersonic and hypersonic wind speeds.

The official opening of the facility is the latest development in the University’s involvement in aerospace engineering research and development, which began in the 1940s and has led to many partnerships with industry leaders including AgustaWestland, IHI-Japan, BAe Systems, Bombardier.

Mr Ewing said: “I am delighted to be here to open the upgraded wind tunnel facilities at the University of Glasgow.  This follows the launch of our manufacturing action plan for Scotland last week – a plan based on a commitment to raising productivity through increased investment and innovation and a long-term partnership between government, industry, our Enterprise Agencies and other key stakeholders. 

“These facilities are a prime example of the type of initiative that can be supported through this partnership approach.

“The University, the Aerospace Technology Institute and others have invested in these facilities in partnership. They offer the Scottish aerospace industry a European leading facility for the development of new aero-structures and aircraft which will allow companies to grow their businesses to meet the significant global demand in aerospace.

Professor Konstantinos Kontis, The University’s Mechan Chair of Engineering, led Mr Ewing on the tour.

Prof Kontis said: “The University has a proud history of innovative aerospace engineering and the official opening of our wind tunnel and testing facilities marks the start of an exciting new chapter for us.

“We were pleased to have the opportunity to show Mr Ewing our unique facilities, which are equipped for testing everything from low-speed unmanned aerial vehicles to aircraft capable of moving at ten times the speed of sound. We’ve also set our sights on the stars and will soon be working closely with the European Space Agency to develop new landers and launchers equipped to reach asteroids and other planets.

“In addition to the opportunities for industry partnerships the facility creates, it also allows us to expand our learning, teaching and research capabilities and build on the University’s already impressive contribution to the economy. We’re very much looking forward to the future.”

The University is part of the Vertical-Lift Network Consortium and the National Rotor Rig facility. Both of these UK university/industry consortia are funded by the Aerospace Technology Institute. The National Rotor Rig facility will help test and demonstrate new technologies to help drive helicopter performance improvements, and the development of next generation wind turbines to help meet the Scottish Government’s renewable energy ambitions.

The University will also build a facility funded by the European Space Agency (ESA) that will directly contribute to the space exploration programme, and to the design of future asteroid and planetary landers and launchers. The University is currently working closely with companies based at Prestwick Airport to create an integrated UK satellite design, manufacture, launch and operations centre.

The facility’s de Havilland low-speed tunnel is a hub in the UK’s National Wind Tunnel Facility (NWTF), a network of wind tunnels identified and selected to ensure that the UK remains a key player with the field of Aerodynamics. In 2014, the University of Glasgow was awarded £1.66M, jointly from EPSRC and the Aerospace Technology Institute, to fund a comprehensive upgrade of instrumentation.


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First published: 24 February 2016