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Alumnus Profile – Keith Armstrong (PhD Adhesion Science and Technology, 1991)

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Keith-Armstrong

Keith in a Piper Tomahawk aircraft, 1990

Keith Armstrong, who is now 83, graduated twice from City’s Chemistry Department. In 1978, at the age of 47, he was awarded an MSc in Adhesion Science and in 1991 a PhD in Adhesion Science and Technology. His professional experience and long years in the aircraft industry allowed him to write his book: Care and Repair of Advanced Composites. The book offers an in-depth look at the principal materials and processes involved in manufacturing, inspecting and repairing advanced composite aircraft structures as well as structures in the automotive, marine, railway, sporting goods and wind power generation industries. The book has sold nearly 3,000 copies.

A long career in the aircraft industry

His career within the aircraft industry started at a very early age. Keith made model aeroplanes till he left school and then became an apprentice at Vickers-Armstrongs (Aircraft) Ltd, Weybridge, a British aircraft engineering conglomerate that produced a whole suite of military products. He also served for three years as a Technical Officer in the RAF, from 1955, in lieu of National Service where he operated Vickers Valiants our first “V” Bombers.

British Airways (BA) employed him in 1967 as Development Engineer in the Structures Group, a job that offered him the opportunity to research, study and develop composite materials including light weight carbon-fibre which has been used for commercial aviation ever since.

Keith also obtained a private pilot’s licence that he used for his job as part of the BA Flying Club and took him to places like Hamburg and France. He logged 420 hours in his log book and piloted about 500 landings.

BA allowed Keith to study at City University London one day a week. He was later invited to submit a Thesis for a PhD on research work he did at BA on adhesives for aircraft repairs. On retirement from BA as a Principal Development Engineer he designed composite repairs for Monarch Airlines at Luton and also delivered a training course for personnel there and for other companies.

Writing a book to collect his work experience

Keith decided to write his book: Care and Repair of Advanced Composites while he was retiring and working part-time. The book was written with training purposes in mind according to Armstrong. “My degrees from City were very helpful in getting lecturing work after I retired from BA.” he says.

Keith’s book is a worldwide reference for repair technicians and design engineers in both aerospace and non-aerospace industries. Chapters include: Introduction to composites and care of composite parts, materials, handling and storage, manufacturing techniques, original design criteria, safety and environment, repair techniques and many other relevant areas of expertise.

Finally, on a more personal basis, Keith was involved with the BA Christian Fellowship for 24 years and has been involved in Methodist Churches all his life. He also enjoys family history, which he finds very interesting.

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