Lufthansa Technik Moves into Age of Carbon Fiber
Teaming with the Technical University of Darmstadt, German cabin completion and MRO specialist Lufthansa Technik (LHT) is developing new methods for load transmission into carbon-fiber composite aircraft fuselage structures in executive aircraft.
Looking ahead to the growing use of composite materials in aircraft such as the Airbus A350 and Boeing’s 787, the Hamburg-based company points out that appropriate changes to the current technology “are essential for manufacturer-independent modifications and individual cabin solutions.” It must be made possible to install specific cabin components at the desired location in an aircraft, and the primary structure must be reinforced in such a way that the additional load can be introduced and distributed safely, according to Dr. Hans Schmitz, LHT’s senior vice president of executive jet solutions.
The project, funded by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology has made it possible to define the maximum load on floor panels for the first time, and to develop highly efficient connectors known as “floor-panel hard points.”
These components, says LHT, are small enough to fit into the palm of a hand and can be individually fitted to the cabin floor by gluing them to the floor panels. This facilitates the flexible attachment of special cabin fittings such as cupboards, tables and partition bulkheads in an aircraft cabin with a maximum load of up to 3,000 Newtons.
The result of the project is sufficiently rewarding that components are already being used for a total of 40 floor-panel hard points in an executive 747-8 being outfitting by LHT.
Among related projects in the study, LHT has also begun investigating ways to compensate for a sudden drop in cabin pressure in an aircraft consisting of many smaller compartments, as well as examining the possibilities for load introduction in the side and upper fuselage structure.
The complete study and “especially the execution of test series, were significantly assisted by a virtual research and development simulation.”
“The results of the Fiber Force research and the resultant force transmission concepts helped us decisively in the VIP completion business to continue successfully meeting the challengers of installing cabin interiors in the new composite fiber aircraft design,” said Schmitz. The overall Fiber Force project is due to conclude by the end of this month.
Elsewhere, Lufthansa Technik’s U.S. subsidiary BizJet International has delivered its first Boeing Business Jet completion to the Chinese Nanshan Group in the city of Longkou. Among highlights of the interior are satellite-live television and iPad interface, audio/visual on-demand (AVOD) entertainment, independent in-arm monitors at each seat, a private stateroom and seating for staff and crew. According to LHT (Stand 1945), it is the first BBJ delivery to the Chinese market and the Tulsa, Oklahoma-based BizJet expects to begin the next green completion this month for another Chinese customer.