Job Description ??

Any VC10 related discussions.....
Post Reply
Clive in Oz
Posts: 1
Joined: Sat Apr 09, 2016 12:10 pm

Job Description ??

Post by Clive in Oz »

Greetings Folks

My dad worked at Vickers Armstrong during the 1950s - His job there (as shown on my birth cert), was "Aircraft supervisor/Progress chaser" - Can anyone tell me what his job would have entailed ?

As a child, I remember him telling me that he was involved with the VC10 and Barnes Wallis.

Back in 1971 I flew with my dad & mum, from KL to London, on a VC10. I can remember my dad speaking with a flight attendant. When she returned after 10 minutes or so, dad followed her to the cockpit, about 20 minutes later he returned, and the attendant asked me if I would like to meet the Captain? I followed her, and spent 15 or 20 wonderful minutes "up front" & in total awe...I was 14 years old :D I remember one of the flight crew using the sextant (?) to get a position/location, reading.

Such wonderful memories...

Best regards


Maurice Ungless
Posts: 1
Joined: Fri Jun 03, 2016 11:35 am

Re: Job Description ??

Post by Maurice Ungless »

Hi Clive in Oz,
Regarding your question, Jelle contacted me via e-mail recently as I do not normally frequent the forums but have now registered so I can attempt to answer it.
" Aircraft Supervisor/Progress Chaser". There were many "Aircraft Supervisors" and "Progress Chasers" throughout the factory in various departments at Weybridge, as there would have been in any factory producing any sort of product. Although I cannot remember the actual job description "Supervisor" being used on the shop floor in those days. However in those days within the different factory departments, as I remember, job titles through the various levels were :- Foreman, he who had direct control over the entire department of either Fuselage, Wings, Erection Shop (IE aircraft production line) where everything came together from various other departments. Also other smaller departments had there own "Foreman" and grade structures such as "Fitters" department where all the small items were manufactured and small assemblies were produced. "Tinsmiths" department where the likes of aircraft external panels and jet pipes were produced. "Machine shop" where all the items of machined items such as undercarriage parts and anything that required to be machined. "Press and Routing" shop where panel skins and formers would be fabricated. "O" department where all metal treatments would be processed. "Redux" department where aircraft fuselage skin panels would be glued together. "Toolroom", they that constructed and fabricated all the tools required for aircraft production from the smallest bracket fabrication tool to the largest fuselage assembly jig or wing assembly jig. There were other departments as well as these to provide all the parts that make up an Aircraft Production Facility.
Below the "Department Foreman" would be an "Assistant Foreman" who carried out the same duties in tandem, and when the Foreman was absent carried out those duties.
Then under the Foreman for each department would be what then was called a "Charge hand". There would be several of these in a department that would cover different aspects within that department and would be in charge of several operatives basically controlling those jobs relative to the department. Then the hands on "Fitters" actually assembling whatever their task was. Over time all these grades and titles have been changed but they would be doing the same job today, that is if we still had a proper aircraft industry as we did in those days of the 50's/60's.
We don't refer to "Fitters" now. It would be Engineer/Technician. A then "Foreman" would be a "Manager" now. Much like the old "Dustman", now referred to as an "Environmental Control Operative" or such. All "sexed" up to prove what ????.
Now after that rather lengthy description of the various grades in a factory environment, to your question, "Aircraft Supervisor/Progress Chaser".
Well as I said before Aircraft Supervisor then as far as I am concerned wasn't actually voiced as a position, however "Progress Chaser" was.
A "Progress Chaser" job did actually as the job description says, he chased the progress of the job, in so much he was responsible for ensuring all the parts to complete a job at the correct time were ready and complete for starting when scheduled. For every individual job there would be a "Schedule of Parts and Tools" for that work. The progress chasers job was to ensure those parts were ready either in kit form, from the smallest item of washers/nuts/bolts to a larger sub assembly part. Now there would be several "Progress Chasers" within departments "chasing" other departments for their particular parts to "feed" other departments through the production process. Now I would assume your dad probably started as a Progress Chaser from whatever before that, and progressed to a what he termed "Supervisor" of other "Progress Chasers" and with the "Aircraft" in front of "Supervisor" I would assume he probably was in the Aircraft Production line rather than in one of the contributing departments.
I can remember very well just one "Progress Chaser", his name was "Wally" Chapman. He was the Senior Progress Chaser on the Vanguard and VC10 production line and was instrumental in my obtaining a position at Wisley Flight Test Centre after finishing my apprenticeship in 1960, had it not been for him I would have probably languished in the production line doing my individual job and getting bored. However that didn't happen and I had a most gratifying job for the remaining time I spent at Vickers Armstrongs and BAE before leaving to pastures new in 1966 at Heathrow with BEA and British Airways, retiring in 2001. I hope that helps with your question regarding your fathers job, a job that was essential if the production line was to progress at a pace commensurate with what was planned. Yes that name "Wally" Chapman loomed large in my life's formulation and very grateful to him. You may very well have read my memoirs on this site "Trials and Tribulations".
Regards Maurice (Mo) Ungless

Post Reply