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Bill Crowther has a degree in Aeronautical Engineering (1990) and a PhD in Experimental Aerodynamics (1994) from the University of Bath. He joined the University of Manchester as a lecturer in 1997, became a Senior Lecturer in 2006 and Reader in 2011. He is a chartered Engineering, member of the Royal Aeronautical society, and Fellow of the Institute of Learning and Teaching in Higher Education. He has been director of the Aerospace Engineering Undergraduate Programme since 2011. His research interests include Unmanned Air Vehicles and associated mission systems, flow control (aerodynamics and micropump development), modelling and simulation of aerospace systems, and experimental aerodynamics. He has taught undergraduate courses on aerodynamics, introductory control, aircraft design and aircraft systems, and was involved in the development of Enquiry Based Learning at Manchester. Bill led the 'FLAVIIR' team at Manchester that demonstrated 'the world's first flapless aircraft' in 2009 as part of the FLAVIIR project. The Manchester demonstrator aircraft from this project is now on permanent display in the 'Manchester Futures' gallery at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester. The ground breaking 'Tumbleweed' unmanned helicopter developed as part of a MoD sponsored project was displayed for a year in the Science Museum in London. In 2012 and 2013 Bill led research expeditions to the Amazon rainforest for the purposes of surveying bio diversity using Unmanned Air Vehicles which created photo mosaic maps of unprecedented detail for the area and taught a lot about making complex technology work in very remote places. He has led two technology spin out projects from his research at the university, which whilst not ultimately commercially successful taught a lot of valuable lessons regarding the nature of technology and business. In 2014 Bill led the development of the first University led Field Course in Autonomous Systems in the UK, with flight training first delivered as part of a British Council funded early career researcher workshop in Thailand in summer 2014. Bill is currently working two large EPSRC grants related to UAVs: HOMEOffshore for inspection and maintenance of offshore wind farms using autonomous systems, and CASCADE which is looking at accelerating the wide-scale adoption of UAVs for scientific and commercial applications. The MAGMA gas turbine powered technology demonstrator UAV developed by postgraduate students and staff at Manchester under Bill’s leadership received significant publicity in 2017 and 2018 through articles in the national press and international aviation press and has been exhibited widely in the UK. Bill has supervised 25 PhD students to completion and has managed £5M of research income as principle investigator over 50 separate funded research projects since 1997.

Research interests

  • Design, control and flight test of of Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAVs), including fixed, rotary and flap
  • Development of novel vision and acoustic based sensing systems for indoor navigation
  • Flow control, including development of fluidic manoeuvre effectors for flapless aircraft, flow separ
  • Flapping flight. Development of flapping wing propulsion systems for sub 1g insect like flight vehic
  • Fluidic micropumping solutions for industrial applications

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure

External positions

External Examiner, University of Limerick


Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Aerospace Research Institute


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