The Dowty Fuel Systems Jet Test Cell at Staverton was where Dowty tested their fuel systems on the Rolls Royce Engines such as the Spey, Pegasus or Olympus jet engines.
Originally constructed in 1956 for Dowty Fuel Systems Ltd. the Jet Test Cell Facility replaced an earlier open-air facility on the airfield. Its original use was for experimental & development testing of engine fuel pumps & controls.
By the mid 1960’s, the engines in use were the De Havilland Ghost & Gyron Junior, Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire, & Bristol Olympus when Dowty Fuel Systems won the contract to build the reheat control system for the Rolls Royce RB168-25R Spey engine.
Research in the 1960’s by Dowty Fuel Systems into digital engine controls resulted in a Bristol Siddeley Pegasus engine being successfully run on a test stand at Staverton in 1968. The company went to develop fuel control systems for the Hawker Harrier and control systems for Concorde
Gloucestershire Jet Test Centre (GJTC) was formed in 1997 and took over the operation of the test cell facility.
An ex. Dowty Apprentice (John Redfern 1969) recalls his experience while working there.
I remember as an apprentice how lucky I was to experience such a facility… on one occasion that I was there… the Test Engineers put the Olympus engine (which were fitted to Concorde) into reheat… the noise was deafening, waves visibly formed on the acoustic pond outside, which were installed to absorb sound, the ground literally shook, with flames seen coming from the Cullum Detuner flue… absolutely amazing!!!
Aerial photo of the test cell at Staverton Airport