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Telair International has begun production of a ballistics-tested and flammability-qualified “”hardened”” material for aircraft cockpit door and other cabin surface security applications.
“”The material successfully passed the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) level IIIA threat test and met the FAA — Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR) flammability requirements in October, 2001. The threat level IIIA ballistic test is specifically prescribed by the NIJ. It calls for the firing of .44-magnum and 9-mm bullets at 1,400 feet. per second into the door panel material, from a distance of 16 feet. Our material met that standard and more,”” said Dennis K. Staver, Vice President and General Manager, Cargo Containment Systems, Telair International.
This critical new material is the result of Telair’s heritage as a leader in aircraft systems design and manufacture and over four years’ extensive research and development in the area of blast resistant aircraft container systems. “”While working with the FAA, DuPont and others, our engineers successfully formulated the lightweight bullet-proof panel material. It is a timely application of Telair’s successful blast-resistant technologies program and meets those new criteria for on-board aircraft security now mandated by the federal government,”” he said.
The panel material is a multi-layer composite utilizing a unique, patent-pending, construction of Kevlar(R), Nomex(R) and Phenolic materials that achieve exceptional weight-to-strength performance, blast resistance and both ballistics and blunt force resilience.
“”We employ the same technologies and manufacturing processes exclusively developed for our ongoing blast-resistance R&D programs. The FAA mandate for enhanced on-board security and Telair’s successful development of the process happened almost simultaneously. This technology gives airlines and aircraft manufacturers an immediate response option for hardening cabin and cockpit surfaces,”” added Robert Fu, Director of Engineering, Telair International, Los Angeles.
The material weighs less than 2 lbs. per square foot, an important consideration for all airlines, aircraft manufacturers and suppliers who must take overall aircraft weight into consideration when considering any new technology. “”This is about half the weight of other available materials and it can be customized for thickness, load carrying capacity, and flexural stiffness to suit various aircraft specifications. It is highly resistant to material fatigue and retains most of its structural integrity, even after repeated ballistic impacts,”” said Fu.
Telair’s business strategy in bringing the technology to market is to immediately provide customized panel material, ready for assembly, directly to OEMs or first-tier aircraft door/cabin/interior manufacturers…and those companies now engaged in aircraft security retrofits. “”Telair is the recognized world leader in comprehensive aircraft cargo systems for wide and narrow body planes. This new material is the fortunate outgrowth of Telair’s ongoing work in the area of blast-resistant cargo systems, and enables us to immediately offer the material in bulk or manufactured to fit any door or bulkhead design,”” Staver continued.
This ability to manufacture panels to custom specifications is important. The estimated 20,000 commercial aircraft likely to be affected by the call for enhanced interior security are equipped with varied cabin and cockpit door designs. Under the FAA security mandate, these must be hardened by April 2003. These aircraft, and new equipment now in assembly, offer a significant market for the hardened panel material. Telair itself sells to and services the air cargo container systems needs of most commercial cargo and passenger airlines, allowing the company immediate access to this market.
Production of the panel material has already begun at Telair’s Los Angeles facility and can increase according to customer demand. The company recently opened a new manufacturing site in Tijuana, Mexico and has facilities in Oxnard, California; Cincinnati, Ohio; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Louisville, Kentucky; the United Kingdom and Germany.
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