McKechnie able to adapt to new aircraft designs

Farnborough Air Show » 2006
November 27, 2006, 11:36 AM

Companies within the McKechnie Aerospace group exhibiting in Hall 4 Stand G14 here at Farnborough International serve to highlight the complexity of modern airliners and just how important the smaller suppliers can be. For example, Hartwell–a member of its Structures group–has concluded an agreement with Aircelle to design and build a new fully remote, engine nacelle latching system for the Airbus A380. The design of the new system, which allows for long life and high reliability with minimum cost and weight has to secure the A380’s aft core cowl at both the six o’clock and twelve o’clock positions.

The self-supporting tie rod/pin latch assembly ensures that the latch will always return to the position required to re-latch the nacelle for flight and the system does not allow the handle assembly to be closed and locked unless certain other parts are in place.

Hartwell has also developed a new cabin door latch for the Bombardier Learjet 45 that eliminates contact turn wear. The new design automatically lifts the external handle off the surface of the door when operated from inside the aircraft to avoid the common problem of damaging the door finish.

The same McKechnie subsidiary has also started making manufacturing prototypes for the engine-cowl latch it has designed for the Airbus A400M military transport. It will soon start delivering 120 latches per shipset.

Innovative design and new technology has also ensured that McKechnie is on board Boeing 787 too. Tyee–another member of the Structures group–has entered into an agreement with Boeing’s IRC division to supply all the fuselage interior support tie rods aboard its next-generation airliner. Under the agreement, estimated to be worth $50 million, Tyee will support the program by doubling its machining capacity by the end of the year and will work with HST aerospace for carbon fiber tubing and Akro Fireguard to provide engineering and test services.

Over 60 percent of the 787’s interior tie rods will be made from carbon fiber tubing and titanium end fittings, reducing the ship-set weight by some 34 percent over traditional support systems. The approach adopted by Tyee is said to have the additional benefit of allowing designs to encompass a broader number of installations with the same parts, as compared to heavier metal parts that have to be customized to suit each specific load requirement in order to reduce weight.

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