A design team will have its work seen by travellers from across the globe after being asked to build three model jets for display at Heathrow Airport.
Staff at David Fox Fibreglass Composites in Bourne are busy building the scale models of the Boeing Dreamliner, which will be installed on the “Concorde roundabout” at the airport entrance.
The five-man team is capable of creating anything in the Roman Bank Industrial Estate workshop, but usually focuses on racing cars and clock towers.
Business owner David Fox said the 32ft planes were a big project to take on but his team was excited to see the end result.
He added: “The plane will go down in two parts, the wings and the fuselage. It’s going to be quite a nervous wait. I don’t sleep at nights.
“It’s an incredible project. We’ve never done anything as interesting.”
The firm is making the models on behalf of a major Middle Eastern airline.
The airline had intended to outsource the work to Indonesia but when a UK-based project manager was appointed, he highlighted previous work carried out by the Bourne company and they were commissioned to take on the project.
The models have presented several challenges to the team.
One has been the sheer size of the planes. The finished pieces will measure 32ft from nose to tail, with a wingspan of 33ft.
And while the fibreglass shell can be assembled in larger parts, the wooden moulds are limited by the size of the machine that cuts them.
Geoff Lewis operates the computer numeric controller router. His job is to design the individual wooden pieces on a computer before they are cut out by the machine. Hundreds of intricate parts have been used to build the moulds.
Geoff said: “The mould is like a large-scale version of a balsa wood model. It all slots together perfectly.”
The next step is to coat the moulds with layers of resin or glass. These are then smoothed out to make the shell.
The three models will be positioned side by side and will be perched on stands to give the appearance that they are taking off.
This presented another challenge. With all three planes at different angles, a strong gust of wind could rip the models from their moorings.
David asked Bourne’s Pilbeam Racing Designs to help with the aerodynamics of the models to ensure that wouldn’t happen.
He said: “You want it to be as accurate as possible but you don’t want it taking off and landing on the M25.”
The models are due to be installed in March and the team is working hard to get them finished. They will be assembled in the workshop for a final check before being taken down to London.
David said: “Like everything we do it’s interesting to watch it take shape. The key part is when you take the product out of the mould. Then it’s an actual shape. It’s like a giant papier mache kit.”
The firm does a lot of work on racing cars and also produces clock towers of varying sizes, many of which end up on the roof of supermarkets and shopping centres.
The team also made a fibreglass wall and roof for Peterborough Crematorium on behalf of Peterborough City Council.
Over the years David’s team has made all sorts of products, including a full-size Eurofighter for the RAF and car parts for the Formula 1 film Rush.
David is always happy to take on interesting projects, and once made a canopy for a bike to allow a friend to sell coffee on the move.
Visit www.davidfoxfibreglass.co.uk for more on the company’s work.