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Composites Industry News

News for 25 July 2010


Qinetiq’s Zephyr Solar Powered Unmanned Aircraft Soars To New World Records

25th July 2010 0 comments

QinetiQ successfully landed Zephyr, its solar powered high-altitude long endurance (HALE) Unmanned Air System (UAS) after 14 days (336 hours) and 21 minutes flying over Arizona, and is now awaiting official confirmation of its world record status. The carbon fibre Zephyr was aloft for 14 nights continuously, achieving the objective of the trial and setting a number of performance and altitude records. An official from the Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI), the world air sports federation, has been monitoring progress at the Yuma Proving Ground and the Zephyr team hopes to confirm a number of new world records. This includes quadrupling its own unofficial world record for longest duration unmanned flight (82 hours, 37 minutes set in 2008) and surpassing the current official world record for the longest flight for an unmanned air system (set at 30 hours 24 minutes by Northrop Grumman’s RQ-4A Global Hawk on 22 March 2001). Zephyr will also have flown longer, non-stop and without refuelling, than any other aeroplane – having significantly passed the Rutan Voyager milestone of 9 days (216hours) 3 minutes and 44 seconds airborne, set in December 1986. “Zephyr is the world’s first and only truly persistent aeroplane,” said Neville Salkeld, MD of QinetiQ’s UK Technology Solutions Group. “”We are really proud of the team’s achievement which has been supported by expertise from across the QinetiQ business and beyond. We’ve now proved that this amazing aircraft is capable of providing a cost effective, persistent surveillance and communications capability measured in terms of weeks, if not months. Not only is Zephyr game-changing technology, it is also significantly more cost effective to manufacture and deploy than traditional aircraft and satellites.”” Transported in a standard road transport container, once launched Zephyr can remain above a general area for weeks, if not months, at a time delivering vital capability at a fraction of the cost of satellites and significantly more cost effectively than other ‘conventionally powered’ manned or unmanned aircraft. Zephyr also does not need to return to base at regular intervals for re-fuelling or servicing which helps minimise the logistical supply chain, extending its operational capability and appeal. Its zero emissions also make it exceptionally environmentally friendly. For the trial in Yuma Zephyr is carrying a communications payload configured to meet the needs of the UK Ministry of Defence. In addition to the obvious defence and security applications, commercial uses include environmental research; monitoring crops and pollution; providing tactical intelligence over disaster zones or forest fires; plus delivering mobile communications capabilities in remote areas. Chris Kelleher, QinetiQ’s chief designer said: “We have designed, built and delivered what will be remembered as a milestone in aviation history. Zephyr will transform the delivery of current services such as communications, and lead to many new applications which are not possible or affordable by other means. The brand-new ‘production ready’ Zephyr airframe incorporates totally new approaches to aerodynamics, structures, propulsion, avionics, flight controls, power system management, thermal control, ground control station design and payload, as well as overall operating processes. Our outstanding team has brought this entire ‘one-shot’ flight together at the first time of asking, demonstrating we can operate both the aircraft and its ultra-light utility payload routinely for long duration flights. “ “We’ve also had to design for temperatures of around plus 40ºC on the ground to below minus 75ºC at altitude, ever changing weather systems including storms and high winds – and Zephyr took them all in its stride. It is a truly fantastic achievement.” Zephyr’s ultra-lightweight carbon fibre design means it weighs in at just over 50Kg. Launched by hand, the aircraft flies by day on solar power delivered by amorphous silicon solar arrays, supplied by Uni-Solar, no thicker than sheets of paper that cover the aircraft’s wings. These are also used to recharge the lithium-sulphur batteries, supplied by Sion Power Inc, which are used to power the aircraft by night. Together they provide an extremely high power to weight ratio on a continuous day/night cycle, thereby delivering persistent on station capabilities. Around 50% larger than the previous version, Zephyr incorporates an entirely new wing design with a total wingspan of 22.5m to accommodate more batteries that are combined with a totally new integrated power management system. The entirely new aerodynamic shape also helps to reduce drag and improve performance.

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Goodrich, Lockheed Martin, and Fokker to Develop F-35 Composite Landing Gear

25th July 2010 0 comments

Goodrich Corporation signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with Lockheed Martin Aeronautics to design and develop polymer matrix composite (PMC) landing gear drag braces for the F-35 Lightning II. In addition, Goodrich signed a MOA with Netherlands-based Fokker Landing Gear for the supply of PMC drag braces for the F-35’s main landing gear. Goodrich is the exclusive landing gear system supplier and integrator for the F-35. Under the three-year agreement, Goodrich and Fokker will work together to design, qualify and produce prototype PMC drag braces to be incorporated into the main landing gear for F-35 conventional take-off/landing (CTOL) and short take-off/vertical landing (STOVL) variants. Fokker’s role will encompass detailed component design and qualification; these efforts will be conducted by Fokker Landing Gear in The Netherlands. Goodrich will perform system-level design and integration in its Cleveland, Ohio and Ft. Worth, Texas landing gear facilities. Compared to the metallic drag brace equivalent, using PMC materials will result in reduced weight and lower maintenance costs over the life of the F-35. The new design will produce a common PMC brace used on both the CTOL and STOVL variants, as well as increase commonality to hardware used on the carrier variant (CV) F-35. Mike Brand, president, Goodrich Landing Gear, said, “”Over the past four years, Goodrich and Fokker have created a complete technology package to develop PMC landing gear components at a maturity level ready for low-risk introduction to the F-35 program. This award emphasizes our continued support to Lockheed Martin Aeronautics and the team’s focus on reducing the F-35’s overall life-cycle maintenance cost.”” Hans Buthker, president of Fokker Aerostructures and Fokker Landing Gear, said, “”It is truly exciting to see the sustained research and development efforts into the application of composite technologies on landing gear awarded by this agreement. The F-35 Lightning II is the perfect launching platform to benefit from Goodrich’s and Fokker’s cutting edge composite landing gear technologies.””

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Airbus Concept Plane Offers Glimpse into the Future of Flight

25th July 2010 0 comments

Air passengers gained a glimpse into the future of flight as aircraft manufacturer Airbus unveiled its Concept Plane at the Farnborough International Airshow. The images released illustrate what air transport could look like in 2050 – even 2030 if advancements in existing technologies continue apace. Airbus experts in aircraft materials, aerodynamics, cabins and engines came up with the design which is an ‘engineer’s dream’ to meet the expectations of the passengers of the future. Ultra long and slim wings, semi-embedded engines, a U-shaped tail and light-weight ‘intelligent’ body all feature to further improve environmental performance or ‘eco-efficiency’. The result: lower fuel burn, a significant cut in emissions, less noise and greater comfort. Charles Champion, Executive Vice President Engineering at Airbus, says: “The Airbus Concept Plane represents an engineer’s dream about what an aircraft could look like in the long term future. It’s not a real aircraft and all the technologies it features, though feasible, are not likely to come together in the same manner. Here we are stretching our imagination and thinking beyond our usual boundaries. With the Airbus Concept Plane we want to stimulate young people from all over the world to engage with us so that we can continue to share the benefits of air transport while also looking after the environment.” A recent poll suggests that the passengers of 2050 will be more environmentally aware while also recognising the many benefits of air travel. For the British public aged under 35, ‘environmental issues’ are second only to ‘cost’ as a barrier to flying; those aged 55+ rank ease of getting to the airport, flight duration and comfort as being more important. Yet the majority of under-35s also look forward to flying more in the future. Over 40 percent think that for every two flights we make today, we will take at least three by 2050. One in ten of us expects to fly at least twice as much. Behind the numbers is a belief that we will live in an increasingly multicultural world where friends and family will be based further from home, according to 68 percent; 64 percent cite a growing desire to travel further and see more of our planet; and 54 percent the need for greater flexibility between life at home and place of work. At the same time, independent forecasts predict the global population will almost double – topping nine billion. Robin Mannings, a leading independent Futurologist, looks ahead: “Most of us want reduced traffic congestion – both on the ground and in the sky – together with improved comfort for a better travelling experience; the poll confirms that. By 2050, we’ll also expect seamless access to a plethora of technology and applications. And ‘flexibility’ will become the new mantra for air travel, with us as passengers choosing levels of speed or luxury in cruise ships of the sky.” Further future-gazing by Airbus shows blueprints for radical aircraft interiors. In ‘The Future by Airbus’ the company talks of morphing seats made from ecological, self-cleaning materials, which change shape for a snug fit; walls that become see-through at the touch of a button, affording 360 degree views of the world below; and holographic projections of virtual decors, allowing travellers to transform their private cabin into an office, bedroom or Zen garden! ‘Green’ energy sources like fuel cells, solar panels or even our own body heat might provide energy for powering some systems on tomorrow’s aircraft. As aeronautics engineers continue to use nature as a source of inspiration, some of these aircraft may even fly in formation like birds to reduce drag, fuel burn and therefore emissions.

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Boeing 787 Dreamliner Makes International Debut

25th July 2010 0 comments

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner made its international debut in support of the Farnborough International Airshow. “”It’s an honour to showcase the 787 here at the Farnborough Airshow,”” said Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager of the 787 program, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “”I can’t think of a finer stage on which to present this highly anticipated airplane.”” This is the first international trip made by a Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The airplane came via nonstop flight to Farnborough, U.K., from Seattle. “”We took advantage of the flying time to conduct some flight testing on the way,”” Fancher said. “”We’re taking every opportunity to complete our testing requirements when we fly.”” Boeing executives and members of the board of directors, dignitaries from the United States and U.K. and a wide variety of media were on hand to welcome Captains Mike Bryan and Ted Grady as they stepped off the airplane and welcomed visitors aboard. About a dozen people traveled on the airplane to conduct testing during the flight. A Boeing Panel also provided an upbeat insight into the origins and progress of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner program at the Farnborough International Airshow. “”The team we have gathered here has a cumulative total well in excess of 100 years of experience in creating, building, flying and supporting Boeing jetliners,”” said Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager of the 787 program, Boeing Commercial. “”This is a unique opportunity to look across the history of this program and understand where we are today.”” Fancher led the panel discussion. Panelists included John Roundhill, former vice president of Product Development for Boeing Commercial Airplanes; Marlin Dailey, vice president of Sales for Boeing Commercial Airplanes; Mike Sinnett, 787 vice president and chief project engineer for Boeing Commercial Airplanes; and Mike Carriker, chief pilot of the 787 for Boeing Test & Evaluation. Roundhill provided the context for the original objectives set forth for the 787 program in 2002. “”Our customers told us they wanted a more-efficient airplane,”” he said. “”They wanted an airplane that had the seating capacity of a 767 and the range and speed of a 777 or 747.”” “”And that is just what we are giving them,”” said Dailey. “”Every 787 delivered will give airlines an airplane that makes a strong difference in their fleets. In this segment of the market, there is no airplane in service today or on the drawing boards for the future that comes anywhere close to the efficiency of the 787 Dreamliner.”” Sinnett and Carriker discussed the current status of the program. Sinnett, said, “”You’d be hard pressed to stand anywhere on a 787 and not have a dozen different improvements from today’s airplanes within arm’s reach. The technology we’ve incorporated is working just like we knew it would.”” Carriker shared a similar assessment of progress on the flight-test program. “”The 787 is a joy to fly; it is performing very well in its flight-test program,”” he said. Fancher summarized, “”On the ground and in the air, the 787 is the airplane that we’ve been talking about – it’s real. It took the expertise and dedication of thousands of individuals around the world to bring the 787 to Farnborough. We’re proud of the team and we’re proud of the airplane that we have created.””

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Goodrich Begins Qualification Testing of C-130 Carbon Brakes

25th July 2010 0 comments

Goodrich has begun qualification activities for the U.S. Air Force to upgrade the service’s C-130 transport fleet with new boltless wheels and carbon brakes. Goodrich’s C-130 wheel and brake retrofit features Duracarb carbon brakes to provide lighter weight, longer life, higher performance and lower cost of ownership compared to steel braking systems. Goodrich is currently under contract to design, develop and perform qualification activities; support flight testing; and provide retrofit equipment for the Air Force’s C-130 fleet. Qualification is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2011, with initial hardware deliveries to the Air Force expected soon thereafter. “”In my opinion, we are very pleased with the rapid progress Goodrich has made to date on this critical improvement program, and look forward to fleet implementation on our aircraft. Goodrich’s boltless wheels and carbon brakes are expected to provide the Air Force with increased up-time and lower cost of operation compared to the current equipment,”” said Ron Montgomery, Landing Gear Systems Chief Engineer, 417 SCMS, Hill AFB. “”We’re also working with our C-130 Major Commands to ensure a smooth and seamless transition to Goodrich’s wheels and brakes for all our operators,”” he continued. Jeff Atkinson, director of military programs for Goodrich Aircraft Wheels and Brakes, said, “”We continue to see strong interest from the international C-130 community in this upgrade because of the significant weight and maintenance savings. Our low-risk design and validation approach combined with advanced aircraft wheel and brake technologies will provide C-130 users worldwide with significant performance, cost and maintainability benefits throughout the life of the fleet.””

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Alafco Opts for the A350-900

25th July 2010 0 comments

Alafco, the Kuwait-based international Aviation Lease and Finance Company, has converted its existing firm order for 12 Airbus A350-800’s placed in 2007, into the higher capacity A350 -900 model. The A350-900 is the first of the three members of the A350 XWB family to be introduced and will enter service in mid 2013. Alafco’s main shareholder is Kuwait Finance House. Alafco specialises in Sharia-based commercial aircraft leasing. “Our customers are seeing rapid recovery in demand. The A350-900 is best suited to meet the needs of our customers in the decades to come. The A350 XWB will be a strong asset in our portfolio,” said Ahmad Al Zabin, Alafco’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “Growth in the industry is undeniable. As passenger traffic begins to recover, we are delighted that Alafco have chosen the most popular A350 XWB model. This decision is further evidence of a wider industry trend towards larger aircraft,” said John Leahy, Airbus Chief Operating Officer Customers. The A350-900 typically has a capacity of around 40 more seats than the smaller 800 model. The A350 XWB (Xtra Wide-Body) Family is Airbus’ response to widespread market demand for a series of highly efficient medium-capacity long-range wide-body aircraft. Orders for the aircraft stand at more than 530 from over 33 customers.

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Alcan Global Aerospace launches Airware

25th July 2010 0 comments

Alcan Global Aerospace, Transportation and Industry (Alcan Global ATI), has launched Airware high-performance low density aluminium alloys for aircraft primary structures, in response to the recent increased use of carbon fibre. Alcan Global ATI say that Airware represents a unique solution to the current challenges aircraft manufacturers are facing, allowing them to combine weight reduction with lower assembly and maintenance costs, and reduction of the overall environmental print. Alcan Global ATI’s goal is to make Airware the solution of choice for major future aerospace programs. €42.5 million will be therefore invested in the production site at Issoire and the R&D centre at Voreppe, both located in France. While Issoire will be equipped with the very first industrial casthouse in the world capable to produce advanced low density alloys (aluminium-lithium), the Voreppe R&D centre’s one will focus on developing new applications. “With Airware, we turn a new page in the aerospace industry. By offering manufacturers a solution to lighten aircraft structures, cut assembly and maintenance costs while benefiting from aluminium infinite recyclability, we are demonstrating our commitment to innovate and meet our customers’ needs”, said Christophe Villemin, Alcan Global ATI President. “Major aircraft manufacturers have already chosen Airware for their new program: Airbus for the A350-XWB and Bombardier for the CSeries. We are particularly proud to look into the future of the aerospace industry by offering the reliability and performance of our solutions”, concluded Christophe Villemin.

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VSS Enterprise Makes First Crewed Flight

25th July 2010 0 comments

15th July was a significant milestone for Scaled Composites as the team march towards the first solo flights of VSS Enterprise (SpaceShipTwo). For the first time VSS Enterprise flew with crew on board. As planned, the spaceship remained attached to VMS Eve (captive) for the duration of the flight and numerous combined vehicle systems tests were conducted. In addition and for the first time, the two crew members on board VSS Enterprise, evaluated all of the spaceship’s systems and functions from end to end in the air. Mission Details: – WhiteKnightTwo (VMS Eve) flight number 33 – SpaceShipTwo (VSS Enterprise) flight number three in captive carry configuration. – Flight Time: 6 hours 12 minutes

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ATK Delivers First Shipments of Composite Components for A350 XWB

25th July 2010 0 comments

Alliant Techsystems ( ATK) has shipped the first deliverables on the A350 XWB (Xtra Wide Body) program, including stringers for three different sections of the aircraft fuselage. “”The first deliveries by ATK on the A350 XWB program represent a significant milestone that will lead to a long-term growth opportunity for the company,”” said Joy de Lisser, Vice President and General Manager ATK Aerospace Structures. “”The on-time delivery of composite components that meet all quality expectations is our top priority. By accomplishing that task, we will ensure customer satisfaction.”” The stringers that were delivered represent several configurations that ATK is positioned to produce using its proprietary and patented Automated Stiffener Forming Machine (ASFM) manufacturing technology. Depending on the location on the aircraft fuselage, the parts are either Omega- or T- shaped, are straight or curved and twisted, and are thin or thick. ATK’s proprietary ASFM technology is instrumental in the manufacture of the A350 XWB composite stringers and provide for a cost effective manufacturing method for these complex parts. The ASFM process allows ATK to produce extremely high quality composite components with the greatest flexibility in design and unmatched repeatability. ATK’s proprietary production processes reduce manufacturing time by up to 90 percent over traditional hand lay-up methods, while its advanced ultrasonic inspection process ensures quality and rapid delivery. The overall ATK content on the A350 XWB includes components for fuselage and engines built for Airbus, Aerolia, Premium Aerotec, Spirit Aerosystems and Rolls Royce, representing the largest commercial program in ATK’s history with total expected revenues of over $1 billion. At peak production, ATK expects to produce up to 25 miles of composite components per month for the A350 XWB fuselage.

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Pultruded SuperStructural Profiles to Support Solar Panels

25th July 2010 0 comments

Creative Pultrusions has worked closely with Flexera and Imco Reinforced Plastics to produce a pultruded structure to support solar panels on the roof of the Go fish Restaurant located in downtown Rehoboth, Delaware. CPI pultruded 6” x 6” x 3/8” Pultrex SuperStructural wide flange beams and Imco then fabricated the pultrusions into the truss sections. Once fabricated, Imco shipped the beams to the jobsite for Flexera to install. The pultruded structure houses photovoltaic panels shading the roof from additional heat loads. Pultrex SuperStructural profiles were chosen for this project because of their high modulus of elasticity and inherent strength properties. The truss sections were designed to comply with all relevant local codes and live loads due to wind and snow. In addition to the high strength and stiffness attributes, the beams are extremely lightweight and corrosion resistant. The corrosive coastal salt air, compiled with the need for a lightweight solution, drove Flexera to integrate the pultruded structure as a means of supporting their solar grid system. According to Creative, such pultruded green alternatives to traditional galvanized steel provide structures with approximately half the carbon footprint of galvanized steel while reducing future maintenance costs.

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