Paris Air Show

Fuel-tank inerting among the stars of Parker’s show

 - June 19, 2007, 10:20 PM

U.S. equipment manufacturer Parker Aerospace (Hall 5 E21) is here at Le Bourget promoting its “core” flight-control, hydraulics, fuel and engine systems products in a “streamlined” exhibition stand. Parker is showing fuel-tank inerting systems, for which it has been working with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) for the past four or five years, said technology and innovation group vice president Mark Czaja. Such systems are being fitted to new commercial aircraft, but have the potential for retrofit to existing fleets.

Parker Aerospace has developed onboard inert-gas generating equipment for all Airbus models, most Boeing current designs and others such as the Russian Sukhoi Superjet regional-jet project. The company’s basic design can be produced to match alternative configurations and fuel-tank volumes of different aircraft, said Czaja.

Parker is working to produce fuel cells that will address requirements driven by what Czaja terms “the mega trend of green” as the industry emphasizes its environmental credentials. He said fuel cells for aerospace now have been developed to the point where they can be offered as an alternative to established auxiliary-power units or ram-air turbine technology. The company is showing an industrial fuel cell aimed at the European market.

Another area of Parker Aerospace expertise being promoted is fly- and power-by-light (FBL and PBL) equipment in which electronic technology is used for, say, data processing by fiberoptic cable, including the use of light to power a computer. Czaja said PBL would permit greater amounts of data to be processed than is possible using copper wire for transmission, thus making greater bandwidth available.

The technology results in lighter equipment that is less susceptible to interference from high-intensity radiation fields or lightning. Another plus is that safety is enhanced, since PBL systems can be passed through fuel tanks with less danger than is inherent with previous technology.

Parker has patented electromechanical systems technology that could be applied to primary flight controls for the next generation of commercial airliners, said Czaja. Previously used in such applications on unmanned aircraft and missiles, but only in secondary airliner systems, the technology is now being promoted by Parker to OEMs as having reached sufficient maturity for use on a “flying platform.” It also is showing fuel nozzles for more-efficient combustion in jet engines, and brushless direct-current rotor-drive pumps for modulating fuel flow to engines.

Czaja confirmed the continuing industry trend for suppliers to become more involved with OEMs in the development of new equipment and systems. For example, Parker Aerospace provides the whole hydraulic system for the Being 787, rather than simply the pumps.

Czaja said there had been a step up in how new-aircraft development responsibility was shared across the industry, with suppliers working more closely with regulators and manufacturers. Parker also has been very involved with Brazilian manufacturer Embraer on flight-control, fuel and hydraulics systems on its E-170 and E-190 regional jets.

Recent contracts include work from the U.S. Air Force research laboratory (AFRL) for the Parker Aerospace control-systems division (with General Electric and subcontractor Optelecom) covering components development and a plan for flight-control power management and distribution for the air-vehicle electromagnetic environmental effects immunity. The division also will support the AFRL’s silicon-carbide power-switch module programs.