15 October

3D Software Plays Pivotal Role in Restoration of de Havilland CometProject reaches significant milestone with the installation of 50 original period instruments in cockpit

Oxford, UK, 15 October, 2015 – Desktop Engineering (DTE), a leading engineering software solutions provider, is continuing to work with volunteers at the de Havilland Aircraft Museum to help restore an Air France Comet 1A F-BGNX. The project has recently achieved a significant milestone following the installation of the pilots’ instrument panels – a full set of 50 original period instruments (photography below).


Alan Higson, a member of the volunteer team at the de Havilland Museum focusing on the cockpit restoration, said:

“None of the cockpit restoration work would have been possible without the free 3D design consultancy supplied by DTE during working hours. The redrawing of all the old de Havilland parts, so that we could get faithful replicas made, has been crucial. I can’t overstate how much of a difference it made to the success of the project having this resource at our disposal, and we will be forever indebted to DTE for their support.”

Commercial aviation’s jet age arrived on Friday 2 May 1952 when British Overseas Airways Corporation’s, inaugural jet passenger service using the new Comet 1, took off from Heathrow for a flight to Johannesburg.  This marked another point where British aviation industry had made history again, with de Havilland the manufacturers, acknowledged as one of the industry’s leading innovators.

.Sadly within less than two years, tragedy was to strike; two aircraft were lost in the Mediterranean due, it later transpired, to fatigue failure of the fuselage skin.  However, once the causes were clearly understood, the design of the aircraft and the materials specifications were changed accordingly and incorporated in the latest version, the Comet 4. Comet 4 went on to have a distinguished commercial career with a total of 68 aircraft produced for British and nine overseas airlines.

Alan continued: “I began the project with research and on a visit to BAE Systems Heritage discovered an indexed archive of Comet 1 drawings which included the port and starboard main instrument panels of the Air France model. The drawings showed me exactly what instruments were fitted to the aircraft and the dimensions of the starboard panel. This has enabled the dimensions of all three panels – including the centre engine panel – to be derived.”

Using the photos Alan took of the drawings, DTE produced 3D models of the three main instrument panels. As the project moved forward, DTE used its 3D design expertise to provide models of other components within the aircraft including instrument panel mounting brackets and a ceiling light for the main fuselage.

Alan concluded:“Without DTE’s help we would have been in considerable difficulty as we couldn’t have got the panels reproduced. The museum is run as a charity and we hope the Comet will attract some old friends and new visitors next year.”



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