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Head of Design and Manufacture

ARA’s Design and Manufacture (D&M) department designs and manufactures metal wind tunnel models, specialist test rigs and strain-gauge balances for wind tunnels at ARA and external agencies. It produces precision engineered “one off” models for testing in low-speed, transonic, supersonic and hypersonic wind tunnels in Europe, America and Asia.

An exciting opportunity has arisen to lead and develop ARA’s innovative Design and Manufacture Business.

The successful individual will provide clear leadership and vision, inspiring and motivating staff to achieve excellence whilst exceeding customer expectations for product quality, cost and delivery, maximising efficiency, optimising production levels and driving operational excellence.

As a member of ARA’s senior management team, this role leads the team to enable the profitable delivery of ARA’s D&M commercial and grant-funded project portfolio. To ensure the D&M work packages are planned and delivered efficiently and participate in status reviews with clients.  Improve the utilisation and development of people, systems, processes and methodology to enable the business to meets our high quality manufacturing requirements.  Develop and maintain an agile supplier network to meet fluctuating capacity demands.

The Role

• To participate in business and technical strategic planning including bid reviews and if applicable, deliver approved, longer-term investment programmes for capability improvements.

• D&M performance management and associated metrics.

• To be responsible for the safe and efficient management of the D&M resources.

• To ensure the creation and delivery of effective and efficient functional plans inclusive of routing within ARA’s Model Manufacturing Centre (MMC) taking into consideration required and available in-house capacity, machines, resources, tools, fixtures and materials.

• To ensure the D&M cost centre is managed within the agreed annual budget and contribute to budget preparation.

• To lead and manage the appraisal system and objective setting for the team members.

• To ensure the skills and capability of the team meets the current and strategic needs of the business including compliance with statutory SHE training requirements, other training, succession planning and recruitment.

• To manage the team’s apprenticeship programme and ensure supervision and coaching of trainees.

• To ensure the effective sourcing, selection and management of suppliers/service providers for supporting D&M delivery requirements.

• Together with appropriate stakeholders, make sure Design and Manufacture associated quality documents are kept valid and in line with company policies/processes.


Essential skills:

• Hold a minimum of an honours degree in a technical/engineering discipline from an established university.

• Demonstrated leadership experience in a technical project-based environment preferably with 5+ years’ experience.

• Knowledge of design, manufacturing and production procedures, machines, tools and inspection techniques with likely practical experience in one of the main disciplines. 

• Possess strong leadership credentials including inter-personal, people-management and influencing skills.

• Excellent written and verbal communication skills.

• Ability to improve standards and be driven by continuous improvement.

• Be capable of applying problem-solving techniques in a logical, competent and timely manner.

• Be a confident, self-motivated individual committed to ensuring that customer satisfaction is achieved in line with company account strategy.

• Have a desire to succeed and be prepared for occasional international travel and out-of-hours working from time to time.

• Have commercial awareness and client relationship management experience.


This is a unique opportunity for the right person to become part of a successful and professional team operating in a world-class facility.

In return, we offer a competitive salary and benefits package which includes:

• Salary
We offer competitive salaries for a basic 38 hour working week, with an aim to attract talented people with the skills and enthusiasm to help us succeed.  Future salary growth is linked to performance and contribution. 

• Pension & Life Assurance
Company matched contributions to a nominated personal pension scheme. Life assurance cover from first day of employment.

• Private Medical Insurance
Free to all employees and cover can be extended to family.

• Holiday
26 days annual leave, increasing to 29 days with longer service; in addition to Bank/Public Holidays.

• Car Parking
There is ample free, and secure, car parking on site.


The successful candidate must satisfy security clearance requirements, including 5 years continuous UK residency.

To apply please send your CV with a covering letter to


Aircraft Research Association Ltd is proud to be an Equal Opportunities Employer