Safety is No Accident: From 'V' Bombers to Concorde (Hardback)
A Flight Test Engineer's Story
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Flying, as everyone knows, is generally regarded as the safest means of transportation. Yet for that to be the case an enormous amount of testing is undertaken. Central to this, of course, are the test pilots, who fly the aircraft, but it is the people behind the scenes who deal with the technical aspects of the aircraft – the flight test observers and engineers.
Numerous books have been written by Test Pilots, but few, if any, from the perspective of an Aeronautical Engineer working as Flight Test Observer/Engineer in partnership with the Test Pilot. This book is an account of the author’s flight-testing career, from the 1960s to early 1980s, at Avro and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
During the author’s time at Avro, he flew on the development and certification test flights of the Avro 748, 748MF, Shackletons, Nimrod and Handley-Page Victor tanker. In the CAA, his role turned to regulation, making flight test assessments of manufacturer’s prototypes and production aircraft, to check compliance with the CAA’s flight safety requirements. The scope ranged from single-engine light aircraft to large civil transport aircraft. It involved frequent visits to foreign manufacturers and also included his participation in the CAA’s Concorde certification flight test programme.
Flight testing involves risk. Advancements in the understanding of aerodynamics and an increasingly professional approach to risk management improved safety, but it would never be risk-free. Several of the author’s close friends and colleagues died in flight test accidents during this period; all on civil aircraft types. It is because of such people that the millions of flights undertaken each year are trouble-free.
With the tag line “From V Bombers to Concorde’ this 278 page hardback is an account of the author’s career as a Flight Test Engineer from the 1960s to the early 1980s. Initially with Avro, he was involved in the testing of the Auro 748 and variants, Shackletons, Nimrods and the Handley Page Victor tanker conversions, before moving to the UK Civil Aviation Authority and regulatory work. This involved checking the compliance of a wide range of civil aircraft with flight safety requirements, including Concorde. In between the serious work, there are many anecdotal stories of personal events that occurred and the result is a most readable book, covering test flying and aircraft development from an unusual angle….Helicopter International - Volume 43, Number 01, 12th January 2022
As featured in: Recommended ReadingCambridgeshire Country Life Magazine
"This book is one of the comparatively rare aviation books that is hard to put down – brilliant effort, there are plenty that are not like that.”Customer Review
John is to be commended for chronicling a personal record of a largely analogue time that is long since passed.RAF Historical Society Journal, No 75 (Jan 21)
The Air World imprint is proving to be the home of some outstanding aviation history and this new book looks at safety through the eyes of a flight test engineer who has worked on some of the finest and most innovative aircraft of the post WWII period. The author provides a very readable narrative, offers fresh insights and is supported by a fine selection of images, many in full colour. – Very Highly RecommendedFiretrench
Read the full review here
… well and engagingly presented, with a good balance struck between technical detail and the more human aspects of the job.Aeroplane Monthly, February 2021
A former Hatfield aerodrome test pilot is to have an aviation book publishedWelwyn and Hatfield Times, 6th May 2020
Article: ‘Aviation book to be released by retired aeronautical engineer’ as featured byIsle of Wight County Press, 15th April 2020 – words by Dominic Kureen
Click here to listen to John R W Smith interview onTalk Radio Europe with presenter Bill Padley on the mid morning show ‘ Let’s Talk’
Automation in aviation can be a lifesaver, expertly guiding a plane and its passengers through stormy weather to a safe landing. Or it can be a murderer, crashing an aircraft and killing all on board in the mistaken belief that it is doing the right thing. Lawrence Sperry invented the autopilot just ten years after the Wright brothers’ first flight in 1903. But progress was slow for the next three decades. Then came the end of the Second World War and the jet age. That’s when the real trouble began. Aviation automation has been pushed to its limits, with pilots increasingly relying on it.…By Jack J Hersch
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