With a degree in mechanical engineering, Amanda initially worked at BAE Systems in manufacturing engineering then, in 2003, moved into project management. Although not directly involved in the ASTRAEA 1 programme, she monitored its progress with great interest as the various consortium partners developed their working relationship.
“Partnership and cooperation doesn’t always come naturally to big companies,” Amanda recalled from those early days, “but they overcame their differences, got the CAA involved and we’re now capitalising on those ASTRAEA 1 relationships in ASTRAEA 2.”
Today, Amanda has two roles in ASTRAEA, one as internal programme manager responsible for the delivery of the BAE Systems element of the programme. Her other role is consortium projects coordinator where she supports the programme director, Lambert Dopping-Hepenstal, and is responsible for the compilation of reporting information, as well as being the point of contact with the TSB monitoring officers.
“ASTRAEA’s unusual in that it has no prime contractor,” Amanda explained, “so no one company tells another what to do. That job belongs to the AIE (ASTRAEA Industrial Executive) which draws a representative from each partner company and acts as a steering board.”
The AIE not only guides the consortium, it also monitors changes in the marketplace to ensure ASTRAEA 2 continues to head in the right developmental direction. In addition, it’s the public face of ASTRAEA and, on September 7th, will convene the 2011 ASTRAEA Conference, “Opening Airspace to UAS,” at the Royal Aeronautical Society in London.
“This conference is our opportunity to share the knowledge we gain,” Amanda said, “which is one of ASTRAEA’s key outputs. We’re 50% publicly funded so disseminating our findings is vital to providing benefits to the UK as a whole.”
Looking beyond ASTRAEA 2, Amanda sees UAS operations becoming fairly common within the next ten years but there’s still a long way to go from where we are right now.
“UAS have a lot of applications,” she explained, “but I don’t see passengers in one in the near term – although 100 years ago it would have been unthinkable for people to be riding around in a lump of metal thousands of feet in the air and it’s now commonplace.”
About BAE Systems
BAE Systems is a global defence and security company delivering a full range of products and services for air, land and naval forces, as well as advanced electronics, security, information technology solutions and support services. In 2010, BAE Systems reported sales of £22.4 billion (US$ 34.6 billion).
It’s the second largest global defence company, based on 2009 revenues, with approximately 100,000 employees worldwide. It has customers in more than 100 countries.