European Consortium Builds Innovative Project to Design and Develop New Wafer Structures for Transport Aircraft

19 February 2013

WASIS project, titled “Composite fuselage section Wafer Design Approach for Safety Increasing in Worst Case Situations and Joints Minimizing” aims to develop an all composite fuselage section structure based on the wafer (also called lattice) structural approach.

The Consortium is composed by 11 partners: 5 are academic institutions and research centres (Cidaut Foundation, National Aerospace University KhAI, University of Patras, Inegi, and the Insitut for Verbundwerkstoffe); 4 others are SMEs (AOES group, MERL Ltd, CirComp Gmbh, and Netcomposites); and the last two partners are one industrial end user (PiaggioAero) and the Comite Europeen de Normalisation (CEN).

During the first year WASIS explored the wafer structural approach and designed a new fuselage section based on the Piaggio P180. This fuselage section, designed to bear the same load cases as its metallic reference structure, was first calculated analytically and afterwards static and dynamic FEM simulations where conducted to determine stiffness, failure indexes and behaviour under different impact situations (such as emergency landing situations, hail damage, or low speed impacts). Also during this first year, proof of concepts where designed and manufactured by Consortium partners to show already at the first review the feasibility of the manufacturing processes (filament winding and tape placement).

WASIS has now completed its second year. During this second year the consortium explains that the WASIS project has focused on improving the fuselage section design, and has started researching the micropins and the reels that will be needed on the structure to avoid cutting fibres and to improve the joints and the load transfer from metals to composites. This has also involved the design and first manufacturing trials of the attachment frames, which will be the metallic interface between the composite section and the rest of the plane.

The consortium says that, since the whole fuselage section is too big for the budget of the project to produce, several scale prototypes have been approach using a buckling criteria as reference scaling criteria. Two different size prototypes have been designed, one will be 1meter diameter prototype (while the original structure is 1.8m diameter), the smaller will be 0.5m diameter prototype. Different manufacturing assessment trials have been conducted to make sure all the concepts can be included into the production of this prototypes: making skin and ribs together, with attachment frames, and with the embedded reels. Also different tests have been run to optimize the mandrel materials and performance.

During the next year and a half, WASIS is expected to manufacturing prototypes and will start a testing campaign based on the building block approach, to effectively show the performance of the structure and validate the developed design.

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