The University of Southampton
Engineering and the EnvironmentWho we are

Aerospace

We have been working at the cutting edge of aerodynamics and flight for over 120 years.

Using sound science and creative engineering we've helped shape the world you know today.

Find out how we've been making history
Lanchester investigating the stability of flight
Lanchester investigating the stability of flight

1882

Frederick Lanchester, the pioneer of automotive engineering, studied at the Hartley Institute (now the University of Southampton). Lanchester was famous for many things, including designing and building one of the first petrol driven four-wheeled cars in 1895, developing the first full theory of lift and drag, his aircraft stability research, and for inventing the disc brake.

 

Image courtesy of Hartley Library, University of Southampton;

1. MS 107/3: Lanchester with one of his model gliders used for investigating stability of flight

 

1934

The first wind tunnel was built at the University College of Southampton (now the University of Southampton).

The Vickers Viscount turboprop aircraft
The Vickers Viscount turboprop aircraft

1950

Elfyn Richards OBE became Chair of Aeronautical Engineering, previously the Chief Aerodynamicist and a designer of the Vickers Viscount turboprop aircraft. Richards introduced and led the University’s research on the environmental and industrial effects of noise and vibration.

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The University's Royal Charter
The University's Royal Charter

1952

The University of Southampton was granted its Royal Charter.

1961

A group of aeronautical engineering students made aviation history with the world’s first human-powered flight.

Students making aviation history – the first human-powered flight
Students making aviation history – the first human-powered flight
Ann Marsden, SUMPAC engineer, with the aircraft Copyright ©RAeS
Ann Marsden, SUMPAC engineer, with the aircraft Copyright ©RAeS
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1963

The Institute of Sound and Vibration Research (ISVR) was established. Over its long history, members have continuously provided solutions to numerous challenges, from noise generation in aircraft engines to utilising ultrasonics for biomedical applications.

Directors of the ISVR from 1963 - 1978
Directors of the ISVR from 1963 - 1978
esearch in the University's largest anechoic chamber
Research in the University's largest anechoic chamber
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1963-1964

Our researchers worked with the US Air Force and UK Ministry of Aviation, to contribute to our understanding of the effect of noise and vibration on structures.

 

1964

Professor Geoffrey Lilley OBE, known as the Father of Aeroacoustics, was appointed Professor of Aeronautics. As leader of the Concorde technical team, he was involved in the design of the aircraft, and his expertise enabled it to fly to New York. Lilley persuaded politicians that the new supersonic aircraft could meet strict US noise restrictions.

 

Concorde, made a reality by Geoffrey Lilley
Concorde, made a reality by Geoffrey Lilley
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Concorde, made a reality by Geoffrey Lilley
Concorde, made a reality by Geoffrey Lilley

 

1969

The Ministry of Technology awarded the University a contract for research into startle in humans caused by sonic bangs. Work commenced to coincide with test flights of Concorde.

 

1979

The world’s first cryogenic wind tunnel, operating at liquid nitrogen temperature (-196 ºC) was designed and demonstrated at the University, before the principle was adopted by others, including NASA. This technology allows for large passenger jets to be modelled under cruise conditions.

Students testing a UAV in the RJ Mitchell Wind Tunnel
Students testing a UAV in the RJ Mitchell Wind Tunnel

1981

The RJ Mitchell Wind Tunnel was presented to the University of Southampton by the Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE), Farnborough.

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1984

The universal fluid flow mapping technique, Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV), was first named by PhD student, Chris Pickering, and ISVR lecturer, Neil Halliwell.

1988

Researchers at the ISVR conducted the first flight trials of an active noise control system in a propeller aircraft, in collaboration with British Aerospace. It was the dawn of the age of audible inflight entertainment.

 

Space debris simulation
Space debris simulation

1990

Our research on space debris began, alongside major organisations such as the UK Space Agency. Our work has made a vital contribution to space policy and has influenced work on the sustainable management of the orbit of space debris.

 

 

1999

The Rolls-Royce University Technology Centre (UTC) in Gas Turbine Noise was launched to reduce aircraft noise through developing and improve noise technology for Rolls-Royce turbofan engines.

2001

Our researchers developed the Debris Analysis and Monitoring Architecture for the Geosynchronous Environment (DAMAGE), which simulates space debris to reduce the threat of these objects in orbit. This modelling system is unique in the UK and is used to inform worldwide space policy.

Aerofoil flow simulation
Aerofoil flow simulation

2007

A team from Southampton completed the first fully turbulent aerofoil flow simulations. Using high performance computers, they performed direct numerical simulations of compressible aerofoil flows with full resolution of the smallest scales of turbulence, paving the way for ongoing aeroacoustic simulations.

 

 

 

Aeroplane coming in to land

2008

The Airbus Aircraft Noise Technology Centre launched, aiming to eliminate all noise nuisance outside airport boundaries. The low-noise technology research undertaken here and at the Rolls-Royce UTC benefits the millions of people living near the UK’s busiest airports.

2011

Researchers at the University of Southampton designed, built and flew the world’s first 3D-printed unmanned aircraft, SULSA.

2015

Opening of the state-of-the-art Boldrewood Innovation Campus by Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal. The campus is the result of the strategic partnership between the University and Lloyd’s Register, representing the largest research collaboration and business partnership of its kind in the UK.

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