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For the development of efficient and durable aircraft floor brackets in its new regional jet ARJ21, COMAC (Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China) has used a combined material/service solution from Victrex.
The company´s additional services, beyond supplying high-performing Victrex PAEK polymers, included simulation analysis, tools for design optimisation, and on-site processing support. As a result, greater design freedom, easier manufacturing and less weight compared to traditionally used aluminum led to the replacement of the metal.
Victrex explains that the COMAC´s ARJ21 (Advanced Regional Jet for the 21st Century) is a type of turbofan jet which is a short- to medium range regional jet. Within the ARJ21, internal loads are supported by various systems including structural beams. Floor brackets are positioned on these beams to provide support within a gap between the loaded beams and the aircraft flooring above. It says that, typically, these brackets would be manufactured in aluminium, the new solution promotes increased production efficiency via rapid injection moulding of the part and is contributing to higher efficiency of the regional jet through weight savings and design improvements that simplify the installation process.
“Today, weight reduction resulting in increased fuel efficiency, is absolutely essential and critical success factors,” noted Dr. Bai Jie, Brackets Team Leader at COMAC. “This is common knowledge within the aerospace industry, but the full potential and processing efficiency of high-performing polymers are not. As a consequence, we have received support from Victrex as the PEEK experts with material and manufacturing knowledge. During the design process for example, their technical team delivered extensive and valuable support.”
Specifically Victrex provided, as part of its extended services, the simulation analysis, the tools for design optimisation, and on-site solutions whenever processing challenges arose. In engineering terms, it claims each of the resulting brackets:
has a loading capacity of up to 6,000N.
has a working temperature range of -55°C – 135°C (-67°F – 275°F).
meets the FAR 25.853 requirements for flame, smoke, and toxicity.
is lightweight (30% less compared to a corresponding aluminum bracket).
is a viable replacement for the same part manufactured in metal.
The distortion tolerance of less than 0.2mm (0.008 in) is considered optimal for installation in the case of the ARJ21 aircraft. Moreover, the floor brackets are extremely durable and offer an economical 30-year life-cycle, in an industry where safety and reliability are absolute prerequisites.
On the one hand, it is COMAC’s goal that airlines replace smaller regional aircraft with the new jet ARJ21 to enable more passengers to fly directly between longer distance destinations within China. On the other hand, the ARJ21 could be used in place of larger aircraft in order to increase flight frequencies and improve operating efficiency in line with airlines and passengers´ needs.
Image provided by Victrex
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