Dr M J Provost CV
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M J Provost Personal Statement
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Other Links


Fire, Steam and Computers (2010)



Bombardier Orbita*: Railway Asset Management for the 21st Century (2009)



The Great Train Catch-Up (2007)



Orbita* shows the way to Optimised Maintenance (2007)



Rolls-Royce Chairman's Awards for Technical Innovation: The Winners (2000)



M J Provost PhD Thesis: The Use of Optimal Estimation Techniques in the Analysis of Gas Turbines (1994)



* Orbita is a trademark of Bombardier Inc or its subsidiaries.


The Engineering Awards won by the Bombardier Orbita team in 2009/10 are pictured below.



Patents Listing (up to 2005)



Note: this listing does not currently include patents applied for in my name (as a co-inventor) while working at Bombardier Transportation and Intelligent Energy.

My (small...) contribution to the Boeing 787 Dreamliner


The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is 20% more fuel-efficient than the aircraft it replaces.  Of this 20%, 3% is due to the replacement of pneumatic engine offtakes (that take high-pressure air from the engines to pressurise the fuselage) by electric engine offtakes (that take larger than usual amounts of electric power from the engines to drive dedicated air compressors for fuselage pressurisation).  This 'More Electric' aircraft and engine systems architecture is well described on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner website (http://www.newairplane.com/787/#/design-highlights/visionary-design/systems/electric-architecture) and several other technical presentations by Boeing (http://www.boeing.com/commercial/aeromagazine/articles/qtr_4_06/article_04_3.html, http://www.boeing.com/commercial/aeromagazine/articles/qtr_4_07/article_02_1.html, http://www.boeing.com/commercial/aeromagazine/articles/qtr_4_07/AERO_Q407_article2.pdf), as well as in a number of specialised textbooks and technical papers.


I had a small hand in this development, aided by many ex-colleagues in Rolls-Royce and a team of systems engineers in Boeing. A letter emailed to the editor of Archive, the magazine of the Rolls-Royce Heritage Trust (RRHT: http://www.rolls-royce.com/about/ourstory/heritage_trust/) and subsequently published in RRHT Archive 87 (2011) tells the story: the email is reproduced below:-


From: Mike Provost

To: Dave Birch, Editor RRHT Archive

Sent: Saturday, May 28, 2011 7:19 PM

Subject: More Electric Engines


Dear Sir


Like Alec Collins, John Cundy and others, I also enjoyed Geoff Kirk's article on the IP power offtake (Archive 85), particularly as I had a role in its development.


While I worked for Geoff in Advanced Propulsion Systems Design (aka Prelim Design...), I led a small team that visited Boeing many times in 2000-1 to convince them of the merits of the More Electric Aircraft concepts which Arnie Newton (an APSD stalwart, who retired in 2000) had been promoting for many years.  Despite personally not knowing much about the ins and outs of electricity (having worked under John Cundy and Alec Collins in the Performance Office for 14 years, I was always more comfortable with enthalpy and entropy than volts and amps!), a very small group of us (which included John Brown from Controls, who sadly died of cancer in 2003) managed to persuade the army of Boeing system specialists we met that the More Electric architecture was the way forward for the Sonic Cruiser and, subsequently, the 787 Dreamliner.  What clinched the argument, apart from the 3% fuel burn improvement that Alec Collins mentioned in his letter (which mostly comes from not having to overpressurise the air offtake to get it through small pipes in the wing and ensure sufficient air pressure at all engine operating conditions: a point I believe Airbus missed until recently), was the weight advantage from using current electrical machine technologies, which had improved substantially since the early RB211 days.  I like to think that the PowerPoint skills I picked up working with Simon Hart in Strategic Planning also helped put over and win the argument: others may have their own views on this...!


The knock-on effects on the RB262 (which became the Trent 1000) were quite substantial.  Glenn Knight did the cycle analyses that showed the beneficial effects on the IP compressor working line of taking all that power from the IP shaft, and determined that the fan root could therefore be offloaded: this enabled a low hub/tip fan to be designed, which enabled a high bypass ratio at reduced fan diameter.  Alan McGuire and others came up with a mechanism for coupling the HP and IP shafts together during start, which was helped by the contra-rotation of the HP shaft: a contingent from APSD won the Chairman's Team Award for Technical Innovation in 2005 for that.  There were also a few interesting impacts on the competition: not only were the P&W and GE two-shaft engines disadvantaged from a cycle point of view by all that power offtake from their HP shafts (the glare I got from the GE rep at the 'all-hands' meeting where Boeing announced the More-Electric decision was one of the highlights of my Rolls-Royce career!), but I also was led to believe that UTC Corporate decided that their commitment to the 787 through Hamilton Sundstrand (who 'wrong-footed' the incumbent system suppliers who remained wedded to bleed air and won most of the business supplying the electric systems for the airframe, as well as the starter-generators) was so great that they didn't push the P&W engine quite as hard as they would have done otherwise...


I remember many interesting and challenging moments during those trips, including being marooned in Seattle after the events of 9/11.  Geoff and I had flown out to Seattle the previous day, and watched it all unfold on breakfast television in our hotel in Mukilteo.  We finally got a flight out after much frantic negotiation over many days by Geoff with BA.  I ran up the biggest telephone bill of my life just trying to find out what was happening in the rest of the world (there being no other news on any of the US TV channels), which Rolls-Royce thankfully picked up when I returned.  I must admit that I felt immensely proud when the 787 flew over Derby in July last year: there's some of me in the airframe as well as the engines.


Sorry about the length of the letter, but the story needs to be told, and I don't think Boeing ever officially gave Rolls-Royce the credit it deserves for this.


Mike Provost

Rolls-Royce 1976-2005


Many of the engineers in the Boeing More Electric team that I worked with were kind enough to sign the inside front cover of a history of Boeing that I bought on one of my trips to Seattle in 2000.


Signatures of Boeing 787 Dreamliner More Electric team Book cover image © Eugene E Bauer/TABA Publishing Inc. All rights reserved


Four very good books on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner are well worth reading:-

  • Turner E (2010) The birth of the 787 Dreamliner  ISBN 978-0-7407-9667-8
  • Norris G and Wagner M (2009) Boeing 787 Dreamliner  ISBN 978-0-7603-2815-6
  • Luisada C and Kimmell S (2014) The Boeing 787 Dreamliner  ISBN 978-0-7643-4637-8
  • Vogel G (2013) Flying the Boeing 787  ISBN 978-1-84797-548-5

I must also pay tribute to John Brown, a very knowledgeable colleague, capable engineer and great friend, who made significant contributions to the work of the More Electric team before his untimely death from bowel cancer in 2003.  He is much missed by all who knew him.  Rest in peace, John.


Well done, Boeing!  You have created a truly amazing aircraft!  http://www.newairplane.com/787/

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