Born: June 20, 1933;

Died: October 3, 2021.

HERB Saravanamuttoo, who has died after a short illness at the age of 88, devoted his professional life to gas turbines, a jewel of modern engineering.

The native Scot worked in Canada and in England, and had a worldwide reputation as an engineer and an academic.

His mental and physical stamina was exceptional. After his retirement he began a 25-year-long second career in gas turbine education, which took in consultancy, brief courses, spells at Carleton (Ottowa) and Cranfield Universities.

It also involved several editions of the authoritative book, Gas Turbine Theory, which has been in continuous print since 1951, one of a very few engineering textbooks with such a lengthy existence.

Herb Saravanamuttoo was born in Monkton, Ayrshire, close to the end of the runway at Prestwick Airport. Such proximity fostered in him a lifelong interest in planes. By the time war broke out, in 1939, he could identify every British and German plane.

From 1942 until 1951 he attended Allan Glen’s School, Glasgow, a centre for STEM education long before that term became common. He was an outstanding pupil and cricketer, playing for three years in the school’s 1st XI. He continued his studies at Glasgow University earning a BSc. in mechanical engineering with first-class honours.

In 1955 Herb emigrated to Canada to join Orenda Engines, working on the Iroquois aircraft engine for the Avro Arrow. Four years later, he was among 14,000 employees who were sacked when the Arrow programme came to an end. Orenda, however, eventually recalled him, and he spent another five years there working on reactor projects and the birth of the Orenda industrial gas turbine programs.

He had been introduced to gas turbines by the first edition of Gas Turbine Theory, by the original authors H. Cohen and G.F.C. Rogers. He would later work with Rogers on a major rewrite to bring the second edition up to date.

In 1964 he joined Bristol University as a lecturer and consultant to aero engine-manufacturers Bristol Siddeley, working on the Olympus engine for Concorde, British Aircraft Corporation (Concorde) and Rolls Royce (the RB211 engine for large jets).

While at Bristol, for a PhD, he undertook pioneering work in gas turbine performance predictions using analogue computers. Obtaining his doctorate in 1968, he returned to Canada in 1970 to join Carleton University, Ottawa.

Herb became a popular and effective lecturer whilst continuing research and consulting for 28 years, holding for 10 years the position of Chairman of the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.

He was a Canadian representative on Advisory Group for Aerospace Research and Development (AGARD), the technical committee of NATO , for nine years. In 1980 he spent a memorable year working for the Royal Navy as Senior Principal Research Fellow, with the honorary rank of Captain RN.

Herb organized and led in-house gas turbine courses at major companies around the world including Rolls-Royce Canada, PW Canada, Siemens, Westinghouse, Airbus, Solar Turbines, Lagoven (Venezuela) and Honeywell Aerospace.

Gas turbines are an industry globally worth (pre-Covid) some £50bn each year for air, land and sea applications. A modern civil aircraft gas turbine (also called jet engine or turbofan) is worth three or four times its weight in silver, and is so reliable that it can travel a distance equivalent to 10 round trips to the moon between repairs.

Currently they are is the focus of great research efforts to achieve designs that protect the environment, for example by burning hydrogen. Many universities are devoting large efforts in this area. Cranfield, the English postgraduate public research university to which Herb contributed in the last two decades, has a team of 200 staff and postgraduates focusing on gas turbines.

Herb had been associated with Cranfield since 2003, both as examiner and instructor. He accumulated many honours and awards, including Fellowships from IMechE, ASME, CASI and Canadian Academy of Engineering, the R.Tom Sawyer Award, ASME, 2004 MacCurdy Award, CASI, 2005 International Collaboration Award of ISABE 2009, ISABE Award, 2019. He gave the Guggenheim Memorial Lecture, 2002 Cranfield Fedden Memorial Lecture, 2008.

He participated in the Allan Glen’s School Club, being active in the Ontario branch and often attending annual dinners back in Glasgow. He was invited twice to give the Allan Glen Memorial Lecture. Both lectures were excellent, stimulating interest of final-year high school students to follow STEM learning.

He enjoyed hiking in New Zealand and Scotland with his Welsh-born wife, Helen, and was proud to walk the 96-mile-long West Highland Way, aged 72. Five years later, he became one of the oldest people to walk the Queen Charlotte Trail in New Zealand.

He is survived by sons Colin, Malcolm and Neil, and grandchildren Taylor, Kendal, Callum, Paige and Jemima. His family and friends across the globe mourn the loss of a great parent/grandparent, friend, engineer and educator.