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Aerospace Engineering Unveils a Piece of Aviation History

Concorde jet engine lands in the Aerospace Systems Design Lab

Feb 5, 2016

History came home to roost at Georgia Tech on February 4 when the iconic Olympus 593 turbojet engine -- the guts of the supersonic Concorde jet -- was officially unveiled in the foyer of the Aerospace Systems Design Lab (ASDL).

Powered by four Rolls-Royce/Snecma Olympus 593 turbojet engines, the Concorde first took its place on the world stage in 1969 when it traveled twice the speed of sound (Mach 2.04). It made its first passenger flights in 1976.

The 7,000-pound engineering masterpiece was made available to Georgia Tech by the Rolls Royce Heritage Trust-Allison Branch. It will remain on display indefinitely.

“In all of our activities with George Tech throughout the years, Rolls-Royce continues to be impressed by the professionalism and knowledge of the students, graduates, researchers, and of course, the faculty,” said Mark Rhodes, vice president of engineering, Rolls-Royce North America.

A Family Affair. Concorde Captain John Eames, left, looks over his shoulder at his son David when the two shared a flight in the Concorde between Texas and England in the late 70s.

“Through this exhibit, we hope to inspire the next generation of brilliant minds who will lead the future in gas turbine technology and design.”

Rhodes estimated that over the last five years alone, Rolls Royce has hired as many as 40 GT-AE grads to work on various engineering projects.

"We have a place in our family for Georgia Tech grads, certainly."

Greeting Rhodes and other Rolls Royce officials at the standing-room-only ceremony were GT-AE chair Dr. Vigor Yang, ASDL director Dr. Dimitri Mavris, GT vice provost for international education Dr. Yves Berthelot, and associate dean of engineering Dr. John Leonard.

"The Concorde took its first flight about the time I received my undergraduate degree," said Yang.

"It is a piece of history. It is educational. But more than that, it is inspirational."

Yang's thoughts were echoed by Berthelot:

"I grew up in France, and believe me, the Concorde made us dream. This is what we need for our students today. Having it here, at Georgia Tech, will make them dream, too."

Another Interesting Aerospace Project. Lee Akridge, BSAE '62, and his wife Toby joined Dr. Vigor Yang at the Olympus ceremony. An engineer on the Apollo, Akridge was fascinated by the legendary Olympus engine. A model of the Concorde is seen behind them.

Marbled throughout the crowd were dozens of Georgia Tech engineering students, eager to observe the legendary Olympus engine and speak to its sponsors. The conversations were fast-paced and excited, but the room grew quiet when retired Rolls Royce engineer David Eames took to the podium to talk about his father, John Eames, who piloted the iconic aircraft.

The younger Eames told the crowd of a time when his father discovered a slight difference between the Concorde and its slower-flying cousins: the extreme speeds traveled by the Concorde cause a temperature fluctuation that in turn causes the aircraft to expand by as much as six inches during midflight. The vehicle contracts again when it returns to subsonic speeds.

And therein lies the rub.

During one such flight, the elder Eames had posted a list of landing instructions on the wall between the cockpit and the main cabin.

"When they were getting ready to land, he went back to get them, but the plane had contracted again and the list was stuck," said Eames. "He remembered everything on the list anyway, so it was not a problem."

The Next Generation. Georgia Tech engineering students Dylan Monteiro (AE), James Youhne (business), Michael Goclon (ME), and Anna Janoff (MSE) have all landed internships at Rolls Royce. They were thrilled to be photographed with one of the company's most celebrated accomplishments -- but they were also dreaming about what they'll be able to add to that legacy.

The city of Atlanta was a natural choice for displaying the historic engine. It was here, in 1985, that special arrangements were made to allow Concorde to land at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. ASDL director Mavris commended the Rolls Royce team for choosing his lab as the exhibition site.

"The Aerospace Systems Design Lab and the Daniel Guggenheim School are honored to share this stunning piece of history with the next generation of engineers -- the architects of the future," said Mavris.

"The engine reminds us, daily, that there are no limits on what ambition and hard work can accomplish. In our classrooms, research, and labs, we are inspired by the genius the Olympus represents."


About Rolls-Royce North America
Rolls-Royce has been present in North America for more than 100 years and today it employs more than 8,000 people across the North America region in 26 US states and six Canadian provinces. Its regional headquarters are located in Virginia, with major operations in Indiana, Massachusetts, California, Mississippi, and Canada.