Flight Testing Taranis

11 May 2016

Royal Aeronautical Society


Taranis is a UK MoD programme with the aim of delivering a flying UAS demonstrator. The Taranis aircraft represents a reduced signature, Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (UCAV) aimed at integrating and proving new and existing technologies into a new airframe. Built and operated by BAE SYSTEMS and Rolls Royce, the demonstration programme was split into two primary phases; Phase 1 for Airframe, Airdata and Aerodynamics and Phase 2 for Low Observability.

The presentation introduces the objectives, scope and challenges of the Taranis programme; discussing the approach adopted with respect to the safety case that is considered necessary to test a large, experimental unmanned technology demonstrator. By combining safety by design and additional operational mitigations, a viable safety case has been constructed to permit experimental flight trials of this unique UK aircraft.

Maintained, operated and monitored by a full team of mission specialists, support specialists, imaging specialists and ground crew; a series of flight tests have now been completed to confirm the performance and functionality of the systems, avionics, imaging sensors and low observable technologies. The flight test philosophy and techniques utilised during the trials are presented, along with the approach taken with Mission Planning and Mission Crew training. Finally, an overview of the flight trials content for the first two flight phases is presented, concluding with an indication of how the inherent capabilities of the demonstrator aircraft will be developed in the future to achieve an operational capability downstream of the demonstration programme.

All RAeS Lectures are free to attend and we welcome both Members and Non Members. To RSVP, please click the Register button under Key Details and log in to your profile or create a user account. Alternatively, send your name and contact details to conference@aerosociety.com to reserve your place.

This lecture will be followed by a drinks reception kindly sponsored by BAE Systems.




Speaker Details

Paddy Bourne, Chief Engineer – Taranis; Jon Wiggall, Flight Test Manager for UAS; Neil Dawson, Chief Test Pilot – Large Aircraft and UAS; BAE Systems

Paddy Bourne

Paddy Bourne is a Chartered Engineer with the IET and is the BAE SYSTEMS Chief Engineer for UCAS and Taranis. Graduating in 1988 with a B.Eng (Hons) in Electronic Engineering, Paddy joined British Aerospace as a Systems Engineer on the Experimental Aircraft Programme. Specialising in avionics, Paddy has fulfilled roles as the Hawk Missions Systems Group Leader and has worked on Typhoon and R&D future capabilities. In 2003 Paddy became the Unmanned Systems team avionics Design Authority, participating in the Raven, Corax, Herti, Fury and Mantis programmes. During 2009 Paddy became the Assistant Chief Engineer for Mantis and then took on the role of Chief Engineer Taranis in 2012 to date. The experience of overseeing and leading the design, build and ground test and participating in the flight trials of Taranis throughout all flying phases led to Paddy taking on the role of BAE SYSTEMS Chief Engineer – Unmanned Combat Air System for the forthcoming joint UK French collaborative programme.

Jon Wiggall

Graduating from Manchester University with a B.Eng (Hons) in Aeronautical Engineering, Jon Wiggall joined the Flight Test Department of British Aerospace in 1989 as a direct entry graduate. Jon now has over 26 years of experience in Flight Testing Military Aircraft across a variety of manned aircraft types, including Jaguar, Canberra, Hawk, and Typhoon. In 2006 he was approached by the Chief Engineer for Advanced Projects to join the BAE SYSTEMS Unmanned Air Vehicle research team and has subsequently participated in numerous UAS trials on behalf of BAE SYSTEMS including Herti, Fury, Demon, Mantis and now Taranis. Jon has been involved in the Taranis programme since its birth in 2005, with responsibilities for the safe planning and execution of the flight trials; culminating in his participation as the Lead Flight Test Engineer for Taranis first flight in August 2013. Jon holds a delegated Flight Test Design Approval Signatory from the UK MAA for UAS Flight Trials and is a member of the RAeS. He was particularly proud to be a part of the team that won the RAeS Silver Team medals for both the Mantis (2010) and Taranis (2014) projects.   

Neil Dawson

Neil Dawson holds a BSc (Eng) (Hons) in Aeronautical Engineering, is Airline Transport Pilot rated and a Member of the RAeS.  Neil has over 35 years of experience in aviation and remains in current flying practice. He joined the Royal Air Force in 1979 and flew operational tours on the Buccaneer and Tornado.  A graduate of the Empire Test Pilots School in 1990 he was subsequently a military test pilot at Farnborough and Boscombe Down flying a wide range of fast jet and heavy aircraft types.  He is currently Chief Test Pilot for Unmanned Air Systems and Large Aircraft for BAE Systems. 

Neil joined BAE Systems in 2003 as Test Pilot for Nimrod MRA4 and was involved in the project from first flight to cancellation.  With over 800 hours on type he has more hours on the aircraft than any other pilot.  As Chief Test Pilot Neil has overseen all Taranis flying to date, was pilot for first flight and has since filled both Commander and Pilot roles.

















































































































Royal Aeronautical Society