GKN delivers APB winglets

Farnborough Air Show » 2008
August 6, 2008, 10:08 AM

GKN Aerospace has delivered Blended Winglets for 767-300ER aircraft to Aviation Partners Boeing (APB) for certification flight tests in support of launch customer American Airlines.

The contract has involved the design and development of an 11-foot-tall winglet and will include manufacture of some 450 shipsets, with forecast peak production of up to 16 shipsets per month.

Blended Winglets are demonstrating substantial environmental and performance benefits for aircraft operators, typically providing a valuable 6 percent block fuel saving, along with important emissions reductions and payload and range improvements. Consequently, many airlines are now undertaking winglet retrofits across their aircraft fleets.

The multi-year winglet agreement, finalized with APB in April 2007, covers winglets for the Boeing 767-300ER/F, as well as the manufacture and supply of 200 Boeing 737-300/500 Blended Winglet aircraft sets. Each winglet is seven feet tall.

The company delivered its first 737 winglets in December 2007 from its site on the Isle of Wight where all GKN winglet manufacture will take place.

“Our successful development and delivery of the first composite Blended Winglets for the B767 is a significant milestone for our business as it grows in the fast-evolving winglets market,” said Marcus Bryson, CEO of GKN Aerospace. “We are one of the world’s leading producers of aerospace composite structures today–pioneering new, automated manufacturing processes that will speed and improve composite infrastructure.”

In other GKN news, two strategic developments have been central in bringing the company’s core propulsion systems operation to the position where it can offer aero-engine primes the capability to manufacture and supply complete, assembled jet engine fan, turbine exhaust or compressor case modules.

These key developments have been the completion of the acquisition in June 2007 of Teleflex Aerospace Manufacturing Group (TAMG) and the continued growth of the company’s manufacturing base in Mexicali, Mexico. Both have instrumental in taking the company’s annual sales of engine products to $550 million.

The TAMG acquisition provided an excellent strategic fit with the GKN Aerospace existing operation which already supplied critical elements of the cold section of the engine, including fan blades and cases and turbine exhaust cases.

TAMG grew the business into the hot engine core and rotating areas, provided integrally bladed rotors (also known as blisks) and airfoil manufacturing expertise and extended important metallic processing capabilities–particularly in electrochemical machining.

GKN said the Mexicali operation, established in 2002, has met or exceeded all growth targets since that time. It already delivers some 1,200 components per month to internal GKN and external customers and the machining and assembly skills being developed in the team at the facility are a real factor in its ability to offer a significant advantage to its customers.

The initial focus for GKN is manufacture of the complete engine fan module. The importance of this section of the engine has increased dramatically in the latest generation engines, as the “high-bypass” fan engines rely principally on the thrust developed by the fan system to drive today’s fuel efficient propulsion systems.

The module forms the front end of the engine and typically includes metal or composite fan blades, the front containment case, rear fan exit case, exit guide vanes and inner “V” groove ring.

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