Cranfield and Starling complete work on UK’s only flying classroom


Aircraft interior company Starling Aerospace and Cranfield University have completed a six month program to modify and re-certify a Saab 340B aircraft for use as a flying classroom for future aerospace engineers.

The 35 seat aircraft, the only such flying classroom in the UK and the latest educational asset to join the university’s fleet required a bespoke solution for the fitment of computer tablets and other equipment to each seat-back.

Starling was responsible for the complete design, fabrication, modification, re-certification and installation process, which provides aerospace engineering students from over 20 universities and Cranfield to gain invaluable flight test experience as part of their research studies.

Operating from Cranfield’s Global Research Airport in Bedfordshire, the Saab 340B provides R&D capabilities for projects which test the development of aerospace technologies and flight operations.

Starling’s co-founding director, Coralie Wigg said, “Supporting Cranfield’s training program of future aerospace engineers has made this an exceptionally rewarding undertaking for Starling and one that required a complex array of technical challenges to be overcome, regarding bespoke design, parts manufacture and stringent re-certification.

“Our team of design engineers and fabricators rose to these challenges with great professionalism and we were very proud to have partnered with Cranfield in support of its endeavours.”

Richard Jones, aircraft technical manager at the National Flying Laboratory Centre said, “Starling Aerospace delivered a fantastic future-proof solution to accommodate the Microsoft Surface Pro tablets in the headrests of the Saab 340 cabin seats for our flying classroom tutorials. We were equally impressed with the durability and finish of the synthetic leather together with high standard of workmanship achieved by the whole Starling team.”

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About Author


Ben has worked as a journalist and editor, covering technology, engineering and industry for the last 20 years. Initially writing about subjects from nuclear submarines to autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies, he was editor of a leading UK-based engineering magazine before becoming editor of Aerospace Testing in 2017.

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