The Academy has just lost one of its founding members, Marc Pélegrin, Honorary Senior Advisor at the National Office for Aerospace Studies and Research (ONERA), who died on January 1, 2024 at the age of 100.
Born in 1923, Marc Pélegrin has left his mark on the history of aerospace engineering through his exceptional contributions both academically and professionally.
He has participated with great efficiency and energy, from its inception and for many years, in the activities of the Academy, in particular in the functions he held as first Secretary-General from 1983 to 1987, then as Vice-President from 1987 to 1990. He also chaired the Foresight Commission when it was created in February 2009. He was also the initiator of the Academy’s symposia on aviation safety.
After graduating from École Polytechnique in 1943, Marc Pélegrin has had a unique career path that has led him to prestigious institutions such as Rochester University, Houdry Process Laboratories and MIT in the United States. In 1952 he received his Doctor of Science degree with a thesis on the “Statistical Calculus of Slavosi.”
During his career, Marc Pélegrin has played a major role in the development of automation, flight simulation, and cutting-edge aerospace technologies. He was the co-founder of the Centre d’Etudes et de Recherches en Automatique (CERA) in 1958, thus anticipating the creation of the Centre d’Etudes et de Recherches de Toulouse (CERT) in 1965.
Marc Pélegrin left his mark on training and research in aerospace, in particular by supervising the process of decentralization of the École Nationale Supérieure de l’Aéronautique et de l’Espace (ENSAE) to Toulouse, of which he was director from 1968 to 1978, assuming this function with that of director of CERT from 1968 to 1988 in order to ensure the close symbiosis between these two poles.
His scientific work has covered a wide range of fields. He has been a pioneer in areas such as automatic detection and automatic reconfiguration of systems after failure, 4-D navigation control of aircraft in the terminal area, and near real-time analysis of an aircraft’s condition during flight testing.
His achievements have also had a significant impact on industry, particularly in the automation of the EDF Nantes Cheviré power plant and the Lille (VAL) and Paris metros.
Marc Pélegrin was a correspondent of the French Academy of Sciences and a member of the French Academy of Technology. He has been honored with numerous distinctions during his career, including the title of Doctor Honoris Causa from the University of Ghent, and in the USA that of Foreign Associate of the National Academy of Engineering. He was an Officer of the Legion of Honour, a Commander of the National Order of Merit, a holder of the Aeronautics Medal and the Academic Palms
While Marc Pélegrin leaves behind an exceptional legacy in the field of aerospace, his work continuing to influence future generations of engineers and scientists, we will also remember his permanent good humour, his contagious generosity and enthusiasm, a very endearing personality, showing true human qualities.
A tribute will be paid to him at a future session of the Academy.