The RAeS Toulouse Branch Lecture, one of the series of lectures that the RAeS hosts at Airbus in Toulouse, France, took place on 20 February 2019. The event featured a Rolls-Royce Student Mini-Lecture Competition where a shortlist of university students in the area delivered mini-presentations for competition. Rolls-Royce sponsored the event and presented prizes to the three finalists. The RAeS Toulouse Branch gives finalists €100 and offers them a flight to either the RAeS in London, U.K., or to the Rolls-Royce home base in Derby, U.K.

The net is cast in a wide range of disciplines, not all of them immediately aeronautical, to encourage young students who do not have English as a first language to present to a well-informed audience. This year’s winner was Apolline Duchalais of Ecole Nationale Supérieure Agronomique de Toulouse (ENSAT), whose presentation was “Astronauts’ Nutrition: Between Challenge and Opportunity.” Oscar Rosas, from the Insitut National des Sciences Appliqués (INSA), gave a view on “Aviation Safety: Are We Getting Better in Accident Prevention?” The third finalist was Lucas Domingos, also of ENSAT, who presented on “Space and Ecology.”

A major part of the evening was, however, given over to a fascinating update of the Rolls-Royce ACCEL project. This is a small self-contained unit within Rolls-Royce, which is based at Gloucester Airport, U.K., and is dedicated (and that is certainly the right word) to completing and flying the fastest pure-electric powered aircraft, designed to achieve at least 300mph in 2020. Matheu Parr, Rolls-Royce ACCEL programme manager, his evident enthusiasm showing throughout the presentation, recognises that this is an ambitious target given that it only started in July 2018, but that the time pressure is, in part, a deliberate challenge. Not only are there critical technical issues to solve, but also the pressure of working so rapidly is itself an incubator for new processes of product development at the rate, which the 21st century demands. The luxury of having long-duration processes are long gone - the new norm is to move quickly into innovative solutions. One of the areas identified by Rolls-Royce is the need for revolutionary transport platforms and infrastructure, and, in many senses, this project provides a vehicle for that.

For more detail visit the Rolls-Royce website.