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A&P Technology Develop Composite Fan Cases with NASA Support

03 October 2005

A&P Technology has developed a new approach to manufacturing composite fan cases with the support of NASA's Research Programme.

NASA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program at its Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, has supported A&P’s development of a new approach to manufacturing affordable composite fan cases with damage-tolerant braided fibre architecture to address the issue of containing failed fan blades in aircraft engines.

A&P Technology has developed this technology for future product lines through partnerships with Williams International and Honeywell International, and sponsorship with General Electric Aircraft Engines.

The braided fan case has a toughness superior to aluminium and enables significant reductions in weight and fuel consumption. This new, low-cost manufacturing process has helped to reduce the weight of the largest structure in a high-bypass aircraft engine by more than 30 percent. This approach is recognized as one of the most promising emerging technologies in the nation. It also contributed to the Jet Engine Containment Concepts and Blade-Out Simulation Team’s receiving a NASA Turning Goals into Reality (TGIR) award.

Unique collaborations and in-kind contributions between large and small businesses, the Federal Aviation Administration, NASA, Ohio State University and the University of Akron enabled rapid development and fabrication of prototype composite fan cases for direct comparison to the metal fan cases currently used in aircraft engines. This technology is supported by a $260,000 SBIR Phase III award funded by the Aviation Safety and Security Program, preceded by a $670,000 Phase I and Phase II funded by the NASA SBIR program.

Phase III will continue to explore improvement in the design of composite structures.