Head of Aerodynamics

Aircraft Research Association (ARA) is a unique SME and the UK’s leading independent transonic wind tunnel with a passionate workforce of engineering and aerodynamic professionals. We are a leading specialist in aerodynamic research providing complementary services and solutions to international aerospace and defence clients. Our clients include Saab, Bombardier, Boeing, Turkish Aerospace, Lockheed Martin, Airbus, Comac and BAE Systems.

Typical projects include producing scaled-down military and civilian aircraft models, comprising multiple parts, which are assembled together and used as highly accurate forces/pressures measuring devices within the on-site high-speed (transonic) wind tunnel.


ARA is located in Bedford and has a rich heritage of delivering world class aerodynamic solutions, as well as a strong reputation in design, manufacturing, and industry relevant Research and Development (R&D) activities. An exciting opportunity is emerging for the role of Head of Aerodynamics to join our organisation.

Reporting to the Chief Executive Officer and working in partnership with the Senior Leadership Team (SLT), the role holder will be responsible for designing and executing the Aerodynamics strategy and have ultimate responsibility for delivering the test programme. They will lead a technical team encompassing all stages of preparation; wind-tunnel testing and/or CFD application; aerodynamic analysis and reporting.

We are looking for an experienced and confident leader with strong leadership and stakeholder management skills to be part of the on-going evolution and success of ARA.

Salary: Negotiable (depending on experience)

Typical hours: Full time, 38 hours per week

Application Deadline: Friday, 19th July, 2024

Key tasks and responsibilities:

  • Leadership of the Aerodynamics Department and responsible for the delivery of the test programme.
  • Ensure the Aerodynamics Department is managed to cost, time and quality in accordance ARA’s requirements.
  • To work collaboratively with the SLT to achieve financial and operational targets through focus on customer requirements and internal efficiencies.
  • Working in partnership with the SLT they will actively support and contribute to business development initiatives as needed.
  • Responsible for Aerodynamics cost centre and test programme by ensuring they are managed within the agreed schedule and annual budget.
  • They are responsible for their team members’ health and safety, and for team members’ compliance to health, safety, quality and security procedures and that all associated documentation is kept valid and in line with the organisation’s policies and procedures.
  • Responsible for line management of direct reports including technical support, mentorship, training and succession planning.


Critical skills, competencies and behaviours:

  • Masters (MEng/MSc) or equivalent level degree in an aerospace related discipline or equivalent knowledge gained through experience.
  • Preferably Chartered Engineer status or equivalent experience.
  • Knowledge of wind-tunnel testing procedures, measurement techniques, computational methods and software tools. 
  • Proven experience of managing a diverse and multi-experienced team ideally in a project based environment and preferable with 5+ years’ experience.

This is an exciting permanent opportunity for the right person to be part of a successful and highly skilled engineering company, working 38 hours per week, Monday to Friday.  In return, we offer a range of benefits including: a competitive salary and pension scheme; flexible working options (normal hours are 0800hrs to 1621hrs); free parking; employee assistance programme; private health insurance and 26 days’ annual leave plus Bank Holidays (increasing with length of service after 5 years’ service)


The successful candidate must satisfy security clearance requirements – including the last 5 years continual UK residency.

Aircraft Research Association Ltd is proud to be an Equal Opportunities Employer. We recognise the value in an inclusive and diverse workforce and we welcome applications from all suitably qualified people.

If you think you are the person we are looking for, please complete the form below.


Contact us

Aircraft Research Association Limited

Manton Lane, Bedford, England MK41 7PF

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