Mission Specific Training – Live Simulations for the British Army

2Excel Aviation, as part of 3XL, continues to ‘do difficult things well’ supporting British Army exercises in Germany and the UK. A long-standing contract – known as Mission Specific Training (MST) – sees the company assisting with the training of military personnel on the ground.

Working within the stringent travel restrictions in Europe, 2Excel recently assisted Collective Training Group (CTG) by delivering support to Exercise Tallinn Dawn, Germany – and all from 160 miles away. The flights involved crossing international borders, delivering Close Air Support and Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance training, and returning to base safely without refuelling.

Our experienced and accredited ex-military pilots flew our PA-31 aircraft equipped with HD camera, military communications and downlinks to provide a live simulation of frontline Fast Jet and RPAS aircraft.

2Excel’s ability to provide support in the live environment allows British military JTACs (Joint Terminal Attack Controllers) – to experience real-world friction and the environmental challenges present during live operations.

We are proud to assist our military colleagues in maintaining their readiness at home or abroad and feedback has been excellent. Describing the service as responsive and flexible as well as proactive, the Army customer concludes that 2Excel provides a ‘first-rate performance… and delivers an excellent level of service throughout’.

MST is headed by 2Excel Aviation’s Chief Pilot Rory Denman and flown by a variety of crews.

2Excel Celebrates EO Day 2021

2Excel’s journey into Employee Ownership started in April 2018, when the Company’s founding directors, Chris Norton, Andy Offer and Harant Singh, announced the launch of a new Employee Ownership Trust (EOT). 

Three years on and the EOT is supporting the Company to empower employees, enhance company culture and, engage and unite our workforce to support growth ambitions. 

Employee Ownership is a term most commonly used to describe a Company which is fully or part-owned by its employees. 2Excel falls into the ‘Indirect’ ownership category which is described by the Employee Ownership Association (EOA) as ‘shares are held collectively on behalf of employees, normally through an employee trust’. 

The 2Excel EOT holds 51% of the shares in the Company.  

Tony Rae is 2Excel’s Employee Ownership Representative who liaises directly with our independent professional Trustee and sits on the Board to represent the employees. 

 Tony said: “2Excel is one of 1,000 companies in the UK which is employee owned, and that number is growing. That equates to one million employee owners. The four pillars of EO Day: Economic Resilience; Mental Health and Wellbeing; Diversity and Inclusion; and Good Business Practices, have been fundamental to our own operations and culture at 2Excel, particularly over the past 15 months.  We’ve endured so much as a Company but we have prevailed and we will continue to grow as a team.


“Thank you to our employee owners for all their hard work and dedication.” 

In addition, the Employee Forum, made up of volunteers from each business department, is a transparent, collaborative and supportive group giving our employees a voice.  Output from the forum is shared at both the Board and Management Board, with initiatives delivered across the business.  

A few members of the 2Excel Employee Forum

Additional sources:  

Find out more about Employee Ownership on the EOA website. 

Read more about the employee wellbeing initiatives available at 2Excel: www.2excelaviation.com/2excel-cares-about-wellbeing/  

To view our Company EO launch video, please click here. 

Spotlight on: The Design Engineer, Merlin Mifsud

The Design Engineer

Merlin is a lead design engineer for 2Excel, working within the company’s Capability Development team, which consists of 49 people. The team is currently inviting Expressions of Interest for an exciting aerospace programme. We spoke with Merlin about his role within ‘Cap Dev’ and why working at 2Excel is a challenging and rewarding career move.  

“Working in ‘Cap Dev’ provides a unique opportunity to not only be involved in, but to take ownership of a design project, from concept through to installed capability – which you do not find in many places. The varied nature of our projects and fleet of aircraft serve to make each project challenging and rewarding. Nothing beats walking upstairs at our Doncaster base and looking down at a hangar full of hugely capable aircraft that you have helped build as part of a fantastic team.” Merlin Mifsud.

Here’s Merlin’s career journey so far…

“I started my career with another Design Organisation that worked on design changes for the 2Excel fleet and worked closely with the 2Excel Capability Development (‘Cap Dev’) team, such that I built a good relationship with 2Excel. The relationship evolved such that I was working exclusively on 2Excel projects and spending a lot of time in the UK. The projects that 2Excel is involved in are remarkably interesting and challenging, which was the main reason for me to consider joining 2Excel on a permanent basis. Looking back, it was one of the best decisions I made as to the level of knowledge I gained, and the interesting jobs I worked on over the past years are beyond what I ever imagined I would do. 

“As a lead design engineer (LDE) working within 2Excel’s design organisation, I am responsible for the project from the initial agreement with the customer through the testing, approval of the modification, and delivery of the modified aircraft to the customer. The involvement of the LDE starts by supporting the Cap Dev management in writing a statement of work in response to the Customer requirement. This is achieved by defining a design that meets those customer requirements and certification path to make it airworthy, aligned with time and cost.  

“Following various internal and external meetings, a certification plan is developed which details the design of the system and its installation, identifying the compliance documents and the required testing, which is distributed and understood by the lead design engineer. 

“Following agreement of the design proposal and certification plan, the compliance documentation is developed. Manufacturing and installation drawings are generated in line with certification documentation to ensure the applicable certification requirements are met. Typical compliance documents are Structural Substantiation reports, Weight and Balance analysis, Electrical Load Analysis, Functional Hazard Analysis and System Safety Analysis and much more. In certain cases, Laboratory or Aircraft-level testing is required and a plan would be compiled and agreed upon in the early stages.  

“The design data is provided to the Production Organisation for manufacturing of parts. This design data is broken down into manageable sub-kits with deliverables that are overseen by the LDE to ensure the timelines are met. 

“Once the installation design data and sub-kits are delivered to the Maintenance Organisation (MOA), the LDE would be on-site to support and ensure a smooth process for installing the system. Any issues identified are fed back to the Design Origination team to ensure a solution is sought in the most efficient way and the data pack and compliance documents updated. Once the change is installed the LDE will witness the testing to ensure compliance with the certification requirements is achieved and therefore allow approval of the modification. Following initial testing, an Acceptance Test is conducted with the client to ensure the end user’s requirements are all met.” 

Merlin, what’s your biggest achievement since starting with 2Excel? 

“My biggest achievement was the TERSUS System on our Boeing 727 Oil Spill Response aircraft. I was responsible for the electrical system, which was a complex design spread over a few years.”  

“Watching through my office window the two aircraft modified with TERSUS departing from Doncaster-Sheffield Airport is extremely satisfying. Other big achievements are the King Air 200 aircraft we modified for search and rescue for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, and various radar installations on our fleet.” 


What do you enjoy about your job? 

“The majority of the projects Capability Development is involved in are first of type “prototype” installations. These are unique and pose challenges on the day-to-day work. The in-house experience and capability built over the past years provides a solid backbone for developing solutions for difficult and complex problems within projects with a high degree of confidence. Following months of design and certification data generation, manufacturing and supporting the installation on the aircraft, ultimately the testing of the system is probably the most satisfying moment because you get to see the final product functioning.” 

What project(s) are you working on currently? 

“I am currently working on various prototype projects. Probably the most interesting one is the installation of a liquid-cooled Radar System on a Beechcraft King Air 200. The radar and its supporting processing units are fitted within our LEAP-R pod attached to the underside of the aircraft. As the array uses a significant amount of power, a liquid cooling unit is required to dissipate the heat generated across the temperature range that may be experienced during flying. The system incorporates pressure and temperature sensors to ensure safe operations during flight.  

“Installation of a new system on an aircraft always presents unique problems to solve. The selection of the fairing material to ensure transmissivity of the radar system is a major factor for consideration. The mounting of large equipment to the underside of the aircraft, and the substantiation data to certify it requires detailed stress analysis. The electrical power and human-machine interface and the routing of electrical provisions through the pressurised fuselage of the aircraft require bespoke parts to meet airworthiness certification requirements and to ensure performance of the system. 

“Liquid cooling is a relatively new subject that ‘Cap Dev’ do not have a lot of experience in yet. But like all new topics the requirements both technical and airworthiness are broken down and worked through to develop a design that is fit for purpose across the temperature range that the radar is required to operate over, and that meets the required safety objectives.” 

What’s the best thing about working in ‘Cap Dev’?  

“The opportunity to develop your career through participation in interesting projects from a blank piece of paper all the way through to releasing the aircraft to service is certainly the best thing ‘Cap Dev’ offers.  

Cap Dev’s management team promotes proactive thinking and supports engineers who are willing to develop to take a leading role and responsibility in projects. Looking back at my time with 2Excel, I started as a design and certification engineer with the enthusiasm and drive to develop my career.  

“Through the years I have progressed to a Lead Design Engineer and Certification Verification Engineer, and most recently I have been appointed as Deputy Head of the Design Organisation. The experience I gained from my involvement in the projects within the last years is massive: from modifications on the Piper PA-31, radar installations and Search and Rescue modifications on King Air, TERSUS installation on a Boeing 727 as well the feasibility study for the Team Tempest Flight Trials Aircraft Boeing 757.” 

What does the near future look like for the ‘Cap Dev’ team?  

“Over my time with ‘Cap Dev’ we have grown to be a “one stop shop” for the 2Excel’s modification requirements with all three design, production and maintenance approvals under one roof at Doncaster.  

“We are very fortunate to see and be responsible for our designs from start to finish across the approvals. Our next 12 to 18 months will see a new period of greater growth particularly in design as we take forward the Team Tempest Flight Trials Aircraft Boeing 757 project alongside our ‘business as usual’ projects and hopefully some other builds.  

“We need a diverse range of skills to support the project that are not yet in the team and we look forward to expanding the team and bring those new people and skill sets into the team.” 

Interested in working for 2Excel? We are inviting Expressions of Interest for highly skilled and experienced people to support upcoming innovative aerospace projects and we’re looking to growth our in-house team. For full details, visit:  

Link to webpage. Expressions of Interest – Capability Development | 2Excel Aviation 

Merlin, describe 2Excel in 3 words 

“Innovative, professional, rewarding” 

2Excel Pilot Awarded MBE in Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2021

2Excel is thrilled to learn that one of its employees has been recognised in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

Blades’ display pilot Kirsty Murphy is awarded an MBE for Services to Aviation.

A career which has span over two decades, Kirsty became the first (and to this day, the only) female pilot to fly in the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, The Red Arrows. During her time on the ‘Reds’, she recognised that she was in an unusual position and had a responsibility to encourage all young people, but especially girls, to raise their aspirations. Kirsty’s passion for volunteering has remained strong and to this day she dedicates her spare time to speaking to schools and other youth organisations to share her journey.

Kirsty has been flying with the Blades since 2016 and has enjoyed displaying to millions of children and young people across the UK. While inspiring the younger generation from the air is important, so is Kirsty’s committed to having time on the ground to speak with as many people as possible.

Kirsty became an Aviation Ambassador for the Department of Transport in 2019 with the remit to make aviation diverse, inclusive and accessible to all – a voluntary role that provides a supportive platform which enables Kirsty to be part of more aviation-led initiatives in the UK.

The repercussions of the Pandemic hit Kirsty hard but in true spirit, Kirsty made the most out of furlough. The time allowed her the opportunity to volunteer a lot more and she worked with numerous schools and youth organisations to encourage young people to raise and widen their career aspirations.

On receiving the heart-warming and exciting news, Kirsty said: “I was blown away when I received an email from the Cabinet Office informing me of this award.

“I was lucky when I was younger because my father’s career meant that I was exposed to life as aircrew in the RAF and I knew it was something I wanted to do myself. Not everyone has that same opportunity and so all I want to do is raise awareness of the wide variety of careers that are available in aviation.

“I really hope that more young people, especially young girls, at least consider it rather than assume that it’s not for them. It has been even more important in this last year to have those conversations with young people. If I can make the difference to just one person, then I will be happy!

“I know there are thousands of people across the country who give up their time for worthy causes and remain unrecognised, so I feel very lucky that I have been chosen for this award.”

Andy Offer, 2Excel Director, commented: “On behalf of 2Excel and its founding Directors, I’d like to congratulate Kirsty on the award of an MBE. It is well deserved recognition for all her hard work, which has spanned more than two decades.

 “Kirsty is an exemplary employee who is committed to giving back, whether that’s through inspiring the next generation, advocating for more young women to join our exciting industry, or through her commendable voluntary work as an Aviation Ambassador for the Department for Transport.

 “Well done, Kirsty!”

Tony Rae, 2Excel’s Employee Board Director, also added: “Kirsty is a skilful and courageous professional pilot and an inspiring role model for any young person wishing to start a career in aviation.  She is also passionate about communicating her own career path and is very proactive in inspiring the next generation, particularly young women who may not otherwise consider aviation.

“Kirsty is a trail blazer who has unquestionably excelled in her aviation career; her flying achievements and her efforts as a role model speak for themselves and we are all very proud and absolutely delighted that she has been awarded a MBE”

From everyone at 2Excel, congratulations, Kirsty!

Spotlight on: Loreena Jaouen, Senior Analyst

Senior Analyst, Loreena Jaouen, joined the 2Excel Geo team in September 2019 after completing her MSc and an eight-week placement during her SPIN (Space Placements in Industry) internship. We spoke to Loreena about her experience and what made her choose 2Excel. 

What was the internship like and what did you achieve? 

“During the internship, the focus was on producing species maps of heathlands at the RSPB Reserve in Sandy, to calculate the degree of fragmentation of heather patches.

“I had the opportunity to visit the reserve, where I met the RSPB Head of GIS for a chat about the potential applications of the work, and carried out ground survey, including the collection of species spectra using field ASD spectroscopy.

“I was given full ownership of the project and the team supported me every bit of the way. It was an intense eight weeks, especially as I was finishing-off my MSc thesis at the time, but I gained confidence in the analysis of hyperspectral airborne data, which was something completely new to me. I developed a greater understanding of Object-Based Image Analysis (OBIA) and gained invaluable insights in the planning and collect part of Remote Sensing. My biggest achievement was the development of a workflow combining pixel and object-based techniques, which Geo is still using and developing further today as part of the various projects we undertake.

“I concluded the internship by writing a report of my findings and designed a poster that I presented at the National Centre for Earth Observation (NCEO) Conference in September 2019.”


How did you find out about 2Excel Geo? 

I had my first exposure to Geo at a career talk in UCL back in October 2018. I remember the presentation vividly, and how exciting the work sounded. I had always wanted to apply my passion for Ecology and Conservation to something more ‘techy’ and Geo was right up there in terms of being exactly what I was looking for.

“About five months later, I heard of SPIN internships through one of my lecturers. I went on the website and when I saw an advert from Geo. I had to apply!”


Why did you choose 2Excel Geo?

“I chose to work with Geo for a number of reasons. The opportunity to experience the full cycle of Remote Sensing first-hand: planning, collect, processing, analysis and delivery. Not many Remote Sensing companies offer that kind of experience, as often the data is collected by a third-party and delivered pre-processed for analysis. The Research & Development focus with a scientific approach to working and the variety of projects and last but not least, the small team atmosphere and the way it facilitates the exchange of ideas.

“The SPIN internship provided me with a full trial of what working at Geo was like, so that when I was offered a job at the end of the eight weeks, I knew it was the right thing for me.”


Would you recommend the internship to prospective candidates?

“An internship can boost confidence and bridge the gap between theory and practice, where customer requirements drive the research for new solutions. Professional experiences help develop invaluable business skills that may not necessarily be acquired through a university degree.

“As part of the SPIN program, interns are invited to take part in an induction event and a final poster presentation. They will get the chance to meet other interns and current employees, working across the sector in all sorts of discipline (physics, engineering, business, politics, geography, geology, computing … just to name a few). This provides invaluable networking opportunities.

“Overall, I believe the SPIN internship is a great way to kick-start a career in Space and Remote Sensing, as often it can either lead to full-time employment or to further opportunities within the sector. For those who are curious about the industry but may not have previous experience, it is also a good way to try before you commit. The worst thing one can do is to not apply!”


Check out our SPIN internship opportunity here.