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Author: Joel Larsson

Out and over!

Out and over!

One year has passed, a year filled with so many interesting meetings and exciting challenges. It’s sad in so many ways that the program is coming to its end. Unfortunately, from the very beginning its end has been as inevitable as death itself.

Now, new challenges are arising, one of them an abroad internship for 6 months. Like Andreas and Joakim, I will also go to the Netherlands. However, I will move beyond the walls of the entire GKN plc and instead go to ESA (European Space Agency). This is the first time since we became GKN that trainees are allowed to go outside of GKN for their abroad placements, something we have been fighting for several months to realize.
That we now have the possibility to move outside of GKN should of course be recognized as a huge success, mostly as the sole purpose of the trainee program is to bridge cooperation and create networks, not only within GKN but also within the heart of the European industry.

There are a lot on the to-do list the next few weeks, much of it concerning accommodation, car, insurances and other paperwork. Then, of course, one must wrap up unfinished projects and delegate work tasks. Maybe you wonder what I will do at ESA? Well, at the moment of writing, I together with my supervisor is working on a directive for the project. However, I can reveal that it will involve their AM processes and material studies. I will also work to try initiating a collaboration within additive manufacturing.

I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity and I will do all I can to take advantage of it. This will be very exciting indeed, towards the Netherlands and beyond!

Study visits and additive manufacturing

Study visits and additive manufacturing


It was a while since I last wrote a blog post, and a lot of exciting and fun things have happened since my pen last touched the ink. Among other things, I have, together with method specialists and buyers, visited our vane subcontractors in Karlskron, southern Germany, and in Pau, northern France. For me it was a very rewarding trip where I got to learn more about the vane manufacturing processes and requirements, as well as got to know some of the people who work there more closely.
A part of the graduate program’s soul-purpose is to connect with people within the European industry, a purpose that I surely fulfilled during my week in France and Germany.
As a graduate engineer at GKN Aerospace you often stumble upon the chance to participate or even lead projects involving everything from product and method development, to the very introduction of new products or methods. A few weeks ago, I said yes to participate in a few projects involving AM-initiatives aimed at reducing production costs while increasing the producibility of some of our products.
AM (Additive Manufacturing, or 3D Printing) is currently being hyped to the maximum, and together with the digitalization, AM is consider becoming the very foundation of the third industrial revolution (at least according to the Economist). As with all technologies, AM has an ocean of possibilities, but it also has its limitations.
It is clear that we now begin to approach the very top of the “hype-cycle”, and the question whether this technology will survive tomorrow’s expectations or not, remains unanswered.
I will dedicate my next post to write about the AM-technology’s possibilities, limitations and risks. Until then, I which you a pleasant vacation (If you have one i.e., if not, I’m sorry)

See you later!

A cold day

A cold day

As you might remember, I mentioned in a previous blog post that my grandfather’s brother, Jan Ingemar Holmquist, flew for the Swedish Air Force during the cold war. Unfortunately, 1952 on December 11th he collided with another airplane during an exercise flight with a Vampire J28. Both planes involved in the collision plunged into the ground. So how did it actually go for the two pilots? What happened that day?

Aircraft Red H, approximately 400 metres southwest from the church of Stockholm Näs
Aircraft Red V, approximately 500 metres southeast from Hägerstalunds farm

Thanks to Hans Brandt, previous fighter pilot at F7 Såtenäs, and Göran Jacobsson, expert on Swedish air force history, I have got my hands on the commission report.
So, let’s make a trip back to 1952, December 11th, a day that in many ways came to reflect the harsh conditions and coldness of the ongoing war. The following story is a reconstruction of the events as expressed in the commission report dated December 13th, 1953.

Commision report from 1953

In the early Cold War, Sweden began sending out its young pilots on increasingly risky and advanced low-flying exercises. This was considered necessary as the threat from foreign powers felt significant at the time. Sweden was caught in the middle of a war characterized by distrust and tensions between the communist East and the capitalist West. As the preparations for a potential invasion increased, more and more Swedish pilots payed with their lives.
The pride and greed that grew forth with soldiers in service often overthrew the fear and concern that naturally arise from conflicts. These attributes could especially be found in pilots. They were often brave, filled with honor and they rarely backed away from challenges. According to flight physician E. Nyström, the two Swedish pilots, Jan Holmquist and Ingvar Lindeberg fulfilled these attributes despite of their low ages. According to evaluations they often showed both courage, will and determination during flight sessions.

It was a chilly day, the 11th of December 1952 at the royal Airforce F8 just outside of Stockholm. It was soon time for Holmquist and Lindeberg to practice flying. Both looked forward to getting up in the air again. Holmquist, 21 years old had around 200 flight hours, and Lindeberg with his 20 years came close with his 192 h. The day was clear and cold, the visibility under the clouds was around 8 km, and over the clouds the visibility was very good at around 50 kilometers. The wind blew cold with its 8-10 meters per second. It was a good day to practice flying and both Holmquist and Lindeberg had flown under significantly worse conditions.
They got ready and boarded the two planes of the model Vampire J28. They were both well-off as they moved out to the runway. The control tower gave them the green light to start their exercise flight and one after each other, they lifted, unaware of the fact that neither of the two aircrafts would ever return home again.

Holmquist could feel how the G force pushed him down while he aimed for the clouds. A few minutes into the flight, the two pilots were stable at an altitude of about 2500 metres in marsch-formation, Holmquist just before Lindeberg.The engine of the type RM1A gave both the aircraft a maximum speed of approximately 700 km/h.

Vampire J28 in marsh-formation

The air traffic management had closely monitored the development within the European military aircraft industry, and in 1944 it was clear that the propeller era was over. In the autumn of 1945, a project named “JxR” was started, which would later result in the SAAB J29 Tunnan aircraft. During the same time Vampire aircrafts were imported from the British company “de Havilland” to enable pilot-training, and to bridge a stable transition to the new jet age. Sweden and British RAF (Royal Air Force) thus became among the first air force in the world to fly the Vampire aircrafts. The aircraft later received the Swedish name J28, and the earlier versions, J28A, were to be used mainly for pilot training.

The RM1 engine

Holmquist turned left with a 30 degree baking and Lindeberg suddenly ended up slightly behind Holmquist, thus pulling on gas to keep the distance constant. In the same moment, he was dazzled by the sun, of which he released the gas and shaded the sun with his left hand. Suddenly, Holmquist’s aircraft approached Lindeberg’s very quickly and Lindberg took down his arm and tried to slow down, but it was too late. The two aircrafts collided. At the moment of collision, the right tail of Lindeberg’s aircraft was torn off when hitting Holmquist’s aircraft, and as a result Lindeberg’s aircraft lost all its ability to stay airborne. The severely battered aircraft did no longer respond to rudder maneuvers. Lindeberg therefore took the very fast decision to jump. He untapped himself from the aircraft, opened the hatch and got sucked out of the airplane as a result of the high velocity. The spite of being hit in the face by his harness and the fact that he hit his shoulder in the hatch opening, he managed to stay conscious enough to pull out his parachute.

Further up in the sky, Holmquist had felt the collision underneath his airplane, and had in the same moment seen Lindeberg’s aircraft plunge uncontrollable into the clouds. At about 600 km/h Holmquist went down to an altitude of 750 meters. The rudder bounced from side to side and his aircraft started to spin out of control. The instruments were no longer readable. Holmquist tried his best to control the airplane, but failed. There was only one thing left to do, to leave the aircraft. He loosened himself from his harness, uncoupled his oxygen and radio, loosened the hatch and tried to climb out. Unfortunately, he was thrown back in the aircraft, giving him the impression that his parachute was stuck. He eventually put both his hands behind the parachute and got out. In the next second he pulled out his parachute. At the moment of release, Holmquist was so close to the ground that he did not feel the difference between the trigger shock from the parachute and hitting the ground. In other words, he had pulled out the parachute just in time.

A few kilometers from there Lindeberg had landed safely and moved to a nearby farm to contact F8. Just as Lindeberg, Holmquist managed without any injuries.
The story ended happily as both pilots survived. Jan is today 85 years old and he finished his career as a commercial pilot for SAS. Ingvar Lindeberg is also alive today at age of 84. Short after the accident Jan decided to propose to his girlfriend, Ann-Charlott, and you might guess what she answered. Jan Ingemar Holmquist and Ann-Charlott Holmquist is still married today.

A cold day with a sunny end!

Ann-Charlott Holmquist & Jan Ingemar Holmquist




With large ear protections and in shining reflection vests, we slowly walked over the airfield, surrounded by a shining sun and a clear blue sky. The weather gave us a liberating sensation, a much appreciated feeling that can only be experienced on a hot summer day, or at the best, an early spring day like this. Sounds from far distant aircraft engines could be heard, and the wind blew cold across the airfield.

F7 in Såtenäs is a vast and magnificent airfield situated right at the feet of Vänern. Guided by two veteran pilots, Håkan Brandt and Dag Kjellberg who have had several flight hours with airplanes such as the legendary Viggen airplane, we waited for three incoming JAS-aircrafts.
F7 is one of four remaining Swedish Air Force squadrons (F7 Skaraborg, F17 Blekinge, F21 Norrbotten and LSS Air Combat School). Air force military units today focus on both national and international operations, and should therefore be prepared to participate in military operations abroad with UN consensus. The Air force is divided into several ground management units and air units, and one does not work without the other. Operators and flight engineers play an equally important part as the pilots themselves.

From southeast, in something called an “echelon formation” three JAS-aircrafts come flying in towards the airfield. One after another, at a safe distance from each other, they started a circular movement in towards the runway. A few hundred meters down, a Hercules aircraft was about to lift, which together with the JAS-aircrafts and the wonderful weather composed a magnificent scenery. When the aircrafts had landed and docked with their different ground-stations, we followed along the personnel performing the routine inspections. The smell of hot RM12, oil and kerosene was imminent.

The tour of the area continued and after a well-placed lunch we tested the flight-simulators. As for us trainees, we will soon have about half an hour each in different JAS-simulators, both from the ones at Linköping Air Force Museum and at SAAB, and to be fairly honest, we will soon be able to fly a JAS gripen ourselves. The tour ended with a brief introduction to the Swedish Air Force history, and we had the pleasure to take a closer look on airplanes such as Viggen, Draken and Tunnan. Both Håkan and Dag shared some of their memories and highlights from their careers, which was amusing I tell you. For those of you who are interested, in the image below is brief summary of the Swedish Air Force history.

Swedish Air Force history!


My grandfather’s brother, Jan Ingemar Holmquist was a fighter pilot in the 50s, at the brink of the Cold War. The story goes that he during a flight training session with a Vampire J28 in 1952, December 11, 21 years old, collided with another airplane. As a result, both planes involved crashed. Thanks to Hans Brandt, I received access to the report from the commission of inquiry. So, in the next post you’ll find out more about what really happened on that cold winter day in 1952, and what happened to the two pilots. See you later! 🙂

GKN Filton & GKN Western Appoach

GKN Filton & GKN Western Appoach

Trainees outside GKN Western Approach!

Here is a brief summary of our visit to GKN Filton and GKN Western Approach. Filton is located not far from Bristol, and is also David’s nest during his current rotation abroad.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, GKN Filton’s main focus is on the moounting of wing structures for a number of customers such as Airbus, Dassault and Lockheed Martin. There is also a center for additive manufacturing with a focus on powder-bed technology, an emerging technology in which fine metal powder is sprinkled over a surface, layer upon layer, and melted using a laser or electron beam energy source. GKN Filton employs around 2000 of GKN Aerospace’s 17,000 employees. There, the mounting of the leading edge of the wing near the fuselage for aircrafts such as the Airbus A350 XWB is performed, as well as for the trailing edge near the tip of the wings for the Airbus A320. Worth noting is that the Airbus A350 is the first Airbus aircraft with both the fuselage and wing structures made of composite materials.
Something that I found really hard to believe until I saw it is that the airplane wing closest to the fuselage is so thick that one could almost stand upright and still be able to fit inside the wing. This is at least true for the bigger aircrafts such as the Airbus A350 XWB.

The wing spar of modern aircrafts is made of composite materials, and for those of you who are not quite familiar with what composite material actually is, I will briefly update you. Composite materials are basically materials formed by combining different materials with different properties, such as thermoplastics and carbon fiber. This combination leads to very high strength to weight ratio, and is today done by automated processes such as Automated Fiber Placement (AFP) and the Automated Tape Laying (ATL).

To close the productions cycle, we went from Filton to Western Approach in the afternoon the same day. There the spar of the two wing parts is manufactured in several advanced manufacturing stages. The filament winding machines in Western Approach weaved together, like a giant spider, the different parts of the wing structure from small skeins of threads, which certainly was an impressive sight. The manufacturing environment in Western Approach is extremely clean, and air filters is used to filter out particles in order not to jeopardize the quality. We almost looked like a bunch of medical students when we walked around in our white coats and hairnets. The site also hosted some gigantic vacuum ovens and washing machines, large enough to fit one or more student apartments.

In short, a very interesting visit both to the GKN site in Filton, and to Western Approach. It feels good knowing that GKN is in the process of develop and manufacture future products made of high-performance lightweight materials for more efficient, more reliable and more environmentally friendly aircrafts.


New trip, new rotation

New trip, new rotation

As Niclas wrote, we had the honor of experiencing some exciting and instructive days in Linköping last week. It was especially rewarding and interesting to meet some of SAAB’s young graduates. After an informative and interesting day at SAAB we had the chance to test out their advanced JAS-simulator, and apart from causing nausea and dizziness to most of the graduates, it was a pleasant experience. By the way, a bird whispered that Niclas forgot to pull up the landing gear when performing an emergency landing on the road E4 outside Linköping, but it’s probably just rumors. Now, our second rotations is turning to an end, therefore, I take this opportunity to comment on my time here at the R&T (Research & Technology) department. However, this time I was more assigned a project rather than a specific department, which of course, has been very exciting. I have no previous project management experience whatsoever, and therefore my time here has been very rewarding in terms of experience. The project I lead extends over a few years and I will therefore keep some focus on that particular project during the continuation of the graduate program. Project management is extremely fun and I can see myself working as a project manager in the future. I also want to praise my colleagues at PTC (”Production-Technology Center” a part of the R&T department) as incredibly nice and competent, and I will miss the wonderful atmosphere there.

Activity week 3 is soon upon us, and I will now hint a little about what we are embarking and which sites we will visit. Joining us for this trip will also our American graduate colleagues, and the goal is to establish a close and personal contact with them. The underlying aim of the study visits are to connect with people on site, increase the overall picture of what GKN do and how we operate globally, and at the same time, act as ambassadors for GAS. Described below are some of the sites that we will visit, all of them in England this time.

GKN Aerospace Luton is a world leader of electro-thermal ice protection system for military and civilian application. The goal is to learn more about this product portfolio from design to application.

GKN Western Approach manufacture wing structures in composite materials and there we will get an insight into the latest composite technology for aircraft structures from design to production.

GKN Aerospace Filton is the “center of excellence” for EBW (Electron Beam Welding). The main focus of this study visit will be to find out as much as possible about this additive manufacturing-technology, as well as to get an insight into the preparations for a large-scale industrialization of additive manufacturing.

GKN Driveline Birmingham is a part of GKN plc, unlike GKN Aerospace that focuses on technologies that operates in and above the atmosphere, GKN Driveline focuses on the manufacturing and developing of technologies that move on the ground, i.e. cars. Surely, it will be interesting to find out how GKN Driveline differ from us in strategic and operational management.

Inspirational evening

Inspirational evening

How do you know what you want to work with? Which way should you choose? If you have chosen a path, it is too late to repent? These were just some of the many exciting and difficult issues we trainees lectured about during the inspirational evening. At the event, food and drinks were on GKN’s treat and the participants got the chance to talk to some of GKN’s many engineers, operators and ITU-students.
The evening was organized for all ninth graders who are now faced with the choice of choosing high school, and was one of our many tasks within the framework of our trainee assignments “Raise Awareness of Engineering to Adolescences” (RAEA).
The inspirational evening was meant to serve as a source of inspiration and information. We wanted to mediate how one could start a career in an easy and understandable way. At the same time, we wanted to take the opportunity to give some well-weighted advice. Advice that can make the road to a dream job a little bit easier and more fun. To conclude the evening we here present a summary of the lecture targeting ninth graders and their parents.

Why an education?
First of all, an education gives you knowledge and knowledge is all about applying and understand information. Secondly, an education gives you the tools necessary to critically examine and absorb information, tools that are becoming increasingly important in a world where misinformation has become everyday food. Knowledge also makes you sought and more independent, both of which are prerequisites for a greater freedom.

Freedom do not just mean having a lot of options to choose from, it also means having the option to choose or not to choose between available options depending on one’s wants or needs, and an education gives you just that. It gives you professional freedom, i.e. it makes it easier for you to change job or industry, or, for example, to choose where and what to work with. The professional freedom also affects your financial and private freedom, and together they constitute the three degrees of freedom that are the very foundation for a more varied, exciting and enjoyable life.
An education also gives you the chance to meet fun and interesting people, people who might become your friends for life, and who knows, someone might offer you a way to your dream job?

How do you know what you want to work with?
Finding an answer to that question can be very difficult. Maybe you will never really know what you really want to work with. However, an interest can be born and grown over time, therefore, you should not be afraid to try new things and new ways. It is also true that the better you become of something the more fun it becomes. To master a profession or a school subject is no different from mastering for example an instrument or a sport, it requires a great deal of time, patience and perseverance. So maybe you will find an interest where you now experience boredom, so take the chance, try to struggle, be persevere and give it a fair chance!

Aiming for very high goals can sometimes be difficult as it becomes hard to see which optimal way to choose right now. So a tip could be to set targets, it makes the trip a little easier. Since almost all employers today require their employees to have a high school education, which is also a necessity for studies at colleges and universities, a high school diploma is a good first milestone on your way to an exciting future with many exciting options.

If you really do not know what you want then?
Well, then you may want to choose an education that is as broad as possible, for example, an education that is both practical and theoretical. This increases the chance that you will find something you are really interested in. A good option can be the ITU program at GKN Aerospace which is conducted in collaboration with the Nils Ericson High School. The program is both work preparatory and simultaneously gives you the competence and access needed for higher studies. In other words, the ITU-program gives students a unique chance to create their own future.

With that said, we trainees want to express sincere thanks to all of those who attended the inspiration evening. For more information and inspiration please go to

Visit at Snecma in Vernon

Visit at Snecma in Vernon

Happy New Year dear readers!

What an incredible and pleasurable journey we experienced. Exciting companies, fine views and new perspectives on both ourselves and the environment. Safran Aircraft Engines (Snecma S.A) in Vernon, France offered just this – perspective.

Snecma develops and produces engines for aircraft, satellites and launch rockets. They also offer MRO (Maintenance Repair & Overhaul) business. Snecma has about 15,700 employees at 35 production and MRO facilities throughout the world.

So, what to Snecma do in Vernon and how is this related to GKN in Trollhättan? Well, Snecma in Vernon is responsible for the final assembly of the Ariane 5 launcher engine, VULCAIN 2. As you probably know, the producer of the nozzle for this engine is actually GKN Aerospace in Trollhättan. GKN Aerospace is the European Space Agency’s “center of excellence” for the space nozzles and turbines for the Ariane rocket. In short, we are good at what we do here in Trollhättan which has paved the way for an effective and long-term cooperation with those involved in the Ariane rocket propulsion technology since its start-up in the 70’s.

At our visit we had the pleasure to meet a very charismatic and eloquent guide, and apart from the perceived language barrier we experienced a very instructive and interesting tour of the Snecma facilities. We got a closer insight into the engines of Ariane 5’s predecessor, Ariane 4 but also the future Ariane 6 rocket. We learned a lot of history surrounding rocket technology and we got to see both successful and less successful designs of the previous attempts of various rocket designs. After struggling to fit into various smocks and hairnets we had the pleasure go into the premises where the final assembly of the VULCAIN 2 took place, and more sterile premises than those one have to look a long time for.

On Snecma’s area in Vernon there is also a test facility for the final assembled motors. This test facility was about the size of an Ariane rocket (about 50 meters high). After seeing a movie of an earlier engine test we were certainly impressed by the fact that the forest behind the building still stood untouched. These incredible forces that are generated and channeled through GKN’s nozzles makes one feel small. The fact that the nozzle even holds is admirable considering that the exhaust temperature is approximately 30% of the sun’s surface temperature.

Humans may be small, but we can achieve great wonders!

Department day

Department day

Now I have slowly shifted over to work with the Aerodynamics Engineers in our department. Working with aerodynamics at a design department often involves the study of fluid flows using different programs. This is necessary to obtain information such as temperature, pressure, density and velocity of fluids, but also to optimize the profile of our products and minimize turbulence and pressure drops. Thursday last week my department (Hot structures) had a full day of activities outside GKN. The aim of the day was that the employees of Hot structures would get to know one another a little better, but also to clarify the department’s goals and strategies for the coming year and that these are in synergy with the company’s vision. After the group exercises and presentations the day was to end with a badminton tournament.

Because I’m the youngest in my department and the majority of my colleagues have a birth date as old as GKN itself (around the mid-1700s) the prognosis was good. However, after an extremely even group stage where I managed to advance on pure luck I unfortunately saw myself defeated in the quarter finals. Ironically, my opponent to beat me was our Aero Lead Engineer, the one I’ve been working with the last two weeks. The tournament itself was finally won by the department head, and whether that was a coincidence or not we leave unsaid.

I’m impressed by my colleagues showing both fighting spirit and good health not only on the badminton field but also in the daily work at GKN. Now we look forward to an exciting week of activities which takes us on a Europe trip!

My lovely colleagues at the department of Hot Structures!
To GAN and beyond

To GAN and beyond

Hey again! The weeks fly by and the working tasks involving both the trainee project and department issues are in full swing. I myself am involved in a project where a TEC (Turbine Exhaust Case) has been modified to increase its life expectancy and producibility. The project is now in a review phase where concerning parts and the production processes are examined. The review process is a way to ensure that the product characteristics meet design intent throughout the production process.

Through this project I together with other Engineers involved in the project received the honor of traveling to GKN in Norway, also called GAN (GKN Aerospace Norway). As we may have mentioned GKN Aerospace Engine System are located in four places, namely in Sweden, Norway, Mexico and the United States. Anyways, it was very educational to meet all the experienced Norwegians, even if it sometimes was really hard to hear what they were actually conversing about. You could probably imagine how hard it was trying to understand a design engineer talking Norwegian when you barely can make sense of the technical linguistic here at Trollhättan in Sweden.

Just as GAS (GKN Aerospace Sweden), GAN produces shafts, vanes and cases. With over 500 employees and 30 years of experience within the aviation industry GAN constitutes an important part of GKN. Otherwise, I need to add that Kongsberg gave me some good vibes. I could see myself live and work there for some time provided I received equal pay as the Norwegians. Norway is, as you may know, very expensive to live in.