AIC Group has been awarded a multi-million pound contract by UTC Aerospace Systems to custom-build an 18 foot diameter autoclave with state-of-the-art control systems.
According to AIC, the autoclave is the first of its size in the UK and will enable UTC Aerospace Systems’ Prestwick, UK, facility to maintain, repair and overhaul larger nacelles systems fitted to the next generation of wide-bodied aircraft.
The autoclave is expected to be operational by the end of 2015. It will run on AIC’s Autoclave Management and Control System (AMCS) which it says provides production efficiencies and energy savings as well as aerospace compliant QA reports. The autoclave will be maintained by AIC in a 10-year programme which includes technical support.
Nigel Clifford, AIC’s Head of Sales, said “The contract is the result of many months of collaborative working between AIC and UTC Aerospace Systems. We listened carefully to what UTC required and they took the time to understand the benefits of key features of the autoclave, its controls and sub-systems. We jointly investigated different configurations, potential cost savings and delivery logistics. Ultimately, we arrived at a carefully specified, high-quality solution that will deliver exceptional performance, increased reliability, energy savings and lower environmental impact. It’s been a pleasure to work with the team at Prestwick.”
Steve Callan, Managing Director of UTC Aerospace Systems – Aerostructures Prestwick Service Centre, said “We are committed to maintaining the high quality capabilities and services our customers expect. This new autoclave better positions us to be a leader in the new large engine nacelle products that have begun entering the market. It further demonstrates our dedication to meeting our customers’ requirements and supporting them into the future.”
AIC will be developing this project with AeroThermal. Ian Toll of AeroThermal, said “What a fantastic project! Using our extensive experience in autoclave design and manufacture, we are confident that we will deliver this on time and within budget. Our engineers, working with AIC’s expert team, are already working flat out.”
The large autoclave will be delivered to the site in sections after being hydrotested and joined using a so-called ‘golden weld’ which is 100% radiographic tested. AMCS will deliver ultimate control utilising AIC’s world leading software and the latest PLC hardware.
AIC says its advanced water cooling system will deliver cooling with minimal environmental impact, significantly lowering chemical use, realising lower running cost, energy savings and waste disposal savings whilst contributing to UTC Aerospace Systems sustainability policy.
The autoclave features its balanced vacuum system controlled by AMCS to deliver very accurate vacuum levels and is constructed of stainless steel lines, seamlessly welded using high accuracy welding and helium leak detection equipment. A hot bonder is also integrated for spot repairs.
Photo provided by AIC.
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