As the largest warship ever built for the Navy left Rosyth dock to set sail on her first sea trials, eyes in Lancashire will be watching carefully.
For BAE Systems experts are working on the project to make sure the F35 aircraft destined to fly from the 280m flight deck of the aircraft carrier will operate efficiently.
At Samlesbury, aircraft parts are built at BAE Systems advanced manufacturing site, and trials are taking place at a new £2m computerised simulation facility complete with replica cockpit at Warton, to prepare the jets to fly from the aircraft carrier.
David Atkinson works at the heart of integrating the F-35 Lightning II aircraft onto the two new £6bn carriers, bringing together two of the biggest engineering projects of all time.
David and those in F-35/QEC Integration will be observing closely – looking at all aspects of how the ship moves,pitches, rolls and how air flows around it, and the pattern of wind over the deck, among other factors.
These small details will play a huge role in understanding how the new F-35 aircraft will operate safely and successfully.
David, who previously worked with the Maritime Naval Ships area of BAE Systems and the MOD, handles the communications between the different organisations, companies and customers involved in both programmes – drawing on his experience to coordinate activities across a host of teams.
He said: “The Joint Strike Fighter programme is the biggest defence programme in history and when you’re getting to work on connecting this to the biggest Royal Navy ships of all time, you can’t help but feel inspired.
“Being right at the connection point between these two crucially important programmes is fascinating, and with the scale of these platforms we’re taking on difficult problems that no one has ever had to solve before.”