He attended the High School of Dundee and the University of Edinburgh to study Civil Engineering, and went on to Imperial College London, where he studied Aeronautics on a Caird Scholarship.
Lickley joined the stress office of Hawker at Kingston upon Thames in 1933. He worked on a new single-seat eight-gun monoplane for specification F5/34. This became the Hawker Hurricane, which first flew in 1935.
As a Chief Project Engineer he worked on the Typhoon, Tempest, and Sea Fury.
He worked on Hawker"s entry into jet flight, the P.1040, which became the Sea Hawk. Cranfield
He became Professor of Aircraft Design in 1946 at the new College of Aeronautics at Cranfield, which became Cranfield University.
In November 1951 Lickley became Technical Director and Chief Engineer of Fairey Aviation, initially working on the Fairey Gannet, including the AEW version. He developed a team of aerodynamicists and mathematicians at their headquarters at Hayes in Middlesex.
Fairey was also based in northern Cheshire.
In 1956 his team produced the Fairey Delta 2, and kept its existence top secret. When it broke the world speed record by more than 300 mph, the Americans knew nothing of the aircraft beforehand, using a practice known as Chinese walls. At the same time the Fairey Rotodyne compound gyroplane was being developed, a successful aircraft that was cancelled in 1962 for financial reasons and noise.
The 48-seat aircraft had been planned for the London-Paris route.
lieutenant also developed the Fairey Ultra-light Helicopter for the Royal Navy, but was not adopted. The company developed the Fireflash, the United Kingdom"s first air-to-air missile, from its site at Heston.
The total engineering team and staff at Hayes was around 1,000. He became Managing Director.
Participant of the company also helped to build the Trawsfynydd nuclear power station.
The British Conservative government cancelled Fairey"s new fighter, based on the FD2. A Fairey Delta 3 had also been planned. The French government however were less unsympathetic, and their main (and highly successful) Mirage fighter aircraft was based on the Fairey Delta 2.
The FD2 had a drooped nose (10 degrees) which was later developed for Concorde.
He received an Honorary Doctorate of Science from the University of Edinburgh in 1973 and from the University of Strathclyde in January 1987. He worked with the Science and Engineering Research Council (SERC).
On 25 November 1981, speaking as President of the Institution of Production Engineers, he said the Government appears to have developed a smooth transfer line which moves the oil revenues to the unemployed without any intervening checks or delays. Instead the checks and delays exist, it would seem, to restrain industry from becoming more efficient and to reduce the likelihood of more young people moving into engineering.
At the time his words were echoed by Robert Inskip, 2nd Viscount Caldecote.
Fairey Delta 2 footage on YouTube
Air speed record on YouTube.
In the 1950s Lickley was a member of the Aeronautical Research Council and Society of British Aerospace Companies.