Since October 2019, the Modane-Avrieux wind tunnels, one of ONERA's crown jewels, have a new director. Known and recognised throughout Europe, and indeed internationally, they have been the testing ground for some of the aeronautical industry's most celebrated creations, with the precision of these installations and the very high level of technical expertise of their personnel allowing concepts to be tested under optimal conditions.
State investment and support, as well as ONERA's strong determination to maintain its wind tunnels at the highest level, guarantee a bright future for this continuing success story!
A graduate of the Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Mécanique et d'Aérotechnique of Poitiers, Pascal Crozier joined ONERA in 1990 as a test manager.
Science and technology before management
Until 2007, Mr Crozier ran a series of test campaigns, notably on helicopter and convertible rotors, complex tests involving innovative technologies, typical of what ONERA's work entails: the development of cutting-edge techniques, for industrial needs, made possible by the all-around expertise of ONERA's engineers. In particular, he took part in the testing of the ERATO rotor, the precursor of the "silent" rotor of the Airbus H160 helicopter
In 2007, his career turned towards management and he became head of the Modane wind tunnels unit, a 40-person unit responsible for the in-service maintenance of the centre's 7 wind tunnels and test benches. He then went on to run major modernisation operations, in particular on the S1MA giant wind tunnel, with the development of a high-performance Mach control system.
In 2013 he was appointed deputy director of the Modane wind tunnels.
Major yet exciting challenges
His primary objective will be to consolidate the position of the ONERA Modane facilities among the world leaders in wind tunnel testing, to enable the DGA and manufacturers, as well as ONERA researchers, to meet the challenges of future programs, and thus ensure the long-term future of the test centre. This major objective was given a boost by the Armed Forces Minister herself during her visit to ONERA in January 2019, when she announced an exceptional loan of 47 million euros from the European Investment Bank to modernise ONERA's wind tunnels: " ONERA is at the cutting edge of European and, indeed, world aeronautical research in several fields. With these additional investments, I know that it will remain so."
In the words of Pascal Crozier himself: " This significant funding, obtained within the framework of the ATP project, will make it possible to ensure the sustainability of the facilities over the next fifteen years and to achieve major technical breakthroughs in terms of the measurement chain (miniaturisation and extension of bandwidths) and testing techniques (acoustics, PSP, PIV, etc.). "
Mr Crozier is also keen to stress that the Modane wind tunnels have another key asset, of a different order: their human capital, in the shape of their competent and motivated teams.