Frank Dougherty, Director of Engineering & Technology at Middle River Aircraft Systems
Nexcelle benefits from the skills and capabilities of the employee teams at its two parent companies: Safran Nacelles and GE Aviation’s Middle River Aircraft Systems. The following article is part of a series of profiles on the unique personalities that are shaping Nexcelle’s role in the future of integrated propulsion systems.
June 6, 2011
Middle River Aircraft Systems’ Frank Dougherty is an avid road bicycle rider who doesn’t have to go far for a reminder of Nexcelle’s links with its other joint venture partner, Aircelle.
Dougherty lives in Havre de Grace, Maryland, which is named after Le Havre, France – where Aircelle’s main production facility is located. Havre de Grace is situated at the mouth of the Susquehanna River on the Chesapeake Bay, and this historic city’s naming as “the harbor of grace” was inspired by Marquis de Lafayette, a French Army general and one of the heroes of the American Revolution. Gen. Lafayette was impressed by the town’s resemblance to his hometown in Le Havre, France.
Havre de Grace provides an excellent starting point for the activities of Dougherty and his wife – who also is a road bike enthusiast. They compete at the amateur level in races and time trials sponsored by the U.S. Cycling Federation in Maryland and across the neighboring states of Pennsylvania and Delaware.
“The bike helps me stay in shape, while also working off some of the stress that can build up on the job,” he explained.
Dougherty added that his wife shares the same passion about road bike racing. “She competes and is very successful, including winning the 2010 Mid-Atlantic Time Trial and Maryland State Time Trial Championships for her age group,” he continued. “Our competitiveness carries over to our training rides together and we end up racing each other. It’s healthy for our relationship.”
Together they own eight bicycles, many of which use aerospace-technology construction with aluminum and carbon fiber composites. “For time trials, the race distances can be 40 kilometers, while the shortest is 8 miles,” he said. “It’s all about speed and aerodynamics: you can buy a lot of speed with the gear you use, but it’s still about fitness and how much and how hard you train.”
Dougherty has been working at Middle River Aircraft Systems since 1986, beginning when the company was owned by Martin Marietta, later merging with Lockheed before its acquisition in 1997 by GE. “Today, we have the most positive business outlook since I joined the company,” he added.
For Dougherty, the Nexcelle joint venture with MRAS and Aircelle brings together the best of two cultures, providing a fruitful exchange of ideas for the development, production and support of cutting edge nacelle systems.
“The relationship allows us to think outside of our normal company boundaries, and they increase our collective ability to come up with innovative ideas – providing a positive learning experience for all of us,” he concluded. “Both Aircelle and MRAS have very complimentary capabilities, including the application of composite materials in aerostructures. While there may have been different approaches at each company, we really have come together on the common themes that we work on.”