Pioneering Repair for Tornado

A team of BAE Systems and RAF engineers have together played a crucial role in carrying out pioneering work on a Tornado at Marham.

The tooling team from BAE Systems Military Air and Information (MAI) site at Samlesbury were called in to carry out never before attempted work on the Tornado. RAF engineers and colleagues from the company’s in-service team from Warton arrived to fix a problem to the top honeycomb panel previously considered a no-go area due to the complexity of the work.

Having spotted the problem, the team at RAF Marham, where the aircraft is based, laser-mapped the panel and sent an image through to Samlesbury where the team manufactured a new one which was sent back down and fitted to the aircraft.

Rob Baker, a BAE Systems engineer on the primary structures team which led the work at Marham, said the aircraft would normally have been retired.

He said: “This type of repair had never been done before, and as such it required a great team effort to ensure it was a success. Working with the BAE Systems in-service team at Warton and tooling team up at Samlesbury, we laser mapped the old panel and then they created a new panel from this 3D image. Once the panel was created, we then had to drill new holes which may sound easy, but the holes had to be in the exact place, otherwise the panel wouldn’t fit the aircraft. This gave us one chance at getting it right, and thankfully the panel was perfect so we then re-fitted the panel before handing the aircraft back to the RAF engineering authority to be reassessed. To say this repair was complex would be an understatement, we used the latest technology combined with the experience and know how of our people to ensure this repair happened. Everyone who worked on this, from teams at Samlesbury, Warton, Marham and our outside contractors, should feel rightly proud that they have contributed to the first top honeycomb panel repair on a Tornado.”

The work was carried out at Marham where BAE Systems provides support for the Tornado fleet. BAE Systems has around 250 people working at Marham to provide this support. The Tornado has been at the forefront of the RAF’s frontline for the past 30 years and II (AC) Sqn are currently deployed on operations over Afghanistan.

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