Meggitt’s new brake group targets bigger market share

 - September 20, 2007, 7:13 AM

Meggitt Aircraft Braking Systems (MABS) makes its official debut at the NBAA show this week as the new, expanded wheels-and-brakes division of the UK-based aerospace systems group. Meggitt is also showcasing new sensor technology here in Atlanta.

MABS combines the newly acquired K & F Industries Holdings (including Aircraft Braking Systems Corp. and Engineered Fabrics Corp.) with Meggitt’s existing Dunlop Aerospace Braking Systems. This $1.8 billion deal was approved in June and also added fuel tank, helicopter interior, ice guard and fuel sealant capabilities.

The MABS exhibit (Booth No. 3400) is featuring friction materials (steel and carbon) for brakes, control systems such as anti-skid, brake-by-wire, auto braking, deceleration, landing, taxi-brake, autonomous and electrically actuated devices, as well as aircraft wheels. In business aviation, Meggitt supplies carbon brakes and lightweight alloy wheels for the Gulfstream G550 and many other models.
Gulfstream recently named Meggitt a “supplier of the year” in recognition of its contributions to several models, including the G500, GIV-SP and, through retrofits, the GIV.

According to Meggitt chief executive Terry Twigger, the integration of the group’s wheels and brakes businesses will allow faster product development and improved distribution and support. He told NBAA Convention News that the company is investing in new technologies to make carbon brakes a more cost-effective choice for business and general aviation aircraft, as well as new anti-oxidants to protect aircraft wheels and brakes. Meggitt’s engineering effort is also focused on developing sensors that can cope with the hotter environments (such as engines).

Networked Sensors Save Weight

At a separate Meggitt exhibit, the group’s newly formed Meggitt Sensing Systems (Booth No. 739) is focusing on recent achievements with lightweight network sensors. This part of the group– which has combined Meggitt Aerospace Systems with the Meggitt Electronics division–develops engine condition monitoring techniques, fuel flow and quality gauges, oil level and pressure sensors, environmental control systems, fire and overheat protection, bleed-air leak detection and actuation. It also covers Meggitt’s avionics activities with products such as integrated flight and engine displays.

Meggitt’s networked sensing systems concept frees up payload capacity currently taken up by some monitoring systems. “Since networked sensors need fewer cables, they need fewer brackets, fixing and plug-breaks, which means less weight,” explained Roger Knock, a health and usage monitoring systems expert with Meggitt Sensing Systems. “And when you consider that cable bundles can be replaced with wireless links, it is possible that the channels needed for networked sensors could be reduced by up to 85 percent over conventional sensor system architecture.”

The networked approach also improves the sensors’ reliability. “There’s less to go wrong with fewer cables and connections,” said Knock. “And installation would be simpler than current systems, so there would be less labor.” A typical system, enabled by transducer bus interface modules and network capable application processors, can be seen here at the show.

Fuel Monitoring

Other Meggitt sensing systems on display include gauging systems from Meggitt’s Vibro-Meter business that monitor flow rates and oil and fuel quality. In addition to measuring the quantity of oil, Vibro-Meter’s systems examine the debris generated by lubricated parts. Problems in bearings and gearboxes often dislodge chunks of metal as they break down. These can be collected and monitored by the sensors to ensure that the right corrective maintenance action is taken.

Now Meggitt is investing in technology to detect not only the oil level and pressure but also dielectric and chemical changes that indicate oil quality or condition. The goal is to achieve a complete oil condition monitoring capability.

Vibro-Meter’s latest fuel sensor technology is based upon radar (time domain reflectometry). This allows the operator to use networks of smart probes that will provide fuel quantity output more accurately and reliably than conventional systems and also offer inputs on fuel quality.

In addition to air-data units, Meggitt Avionics will be showing secondary flight display systems designed for business jets, including several models for Cessna, Dassault, Gulfstream and Hawker Beechcraft. These units include magnetometers that provide a second source of heading data in digital format to suit the avionics architectures of the latest aircraft. The company has also developed engine displays for small business aircraft capable of replacing up to 12 conventional gauges in a single three-inch flat-panel display.

Separately, Meggitt Thermal Systems is displaying a new environmental control system concept developed for light and very light jets, as part of its wider capability in ice protection, valves, heat exchangers and ducting. The division’s Keith Products business recently won a contract from Cessna to develop and provide a vapor-cycle cooling system for the Citation CJ4.

The group is providing the Eclipse 500’s nacelle anti-ice system, along with lightweight, easy-to-maintain ducting. It has also been selected to supply anti-ice systems for Hawker Beechcraft’s King Air 350, Embraer’s Phenom 100, the Piaggio Avanti and the Sikorsky S-92.

Finally, Meggitt’s NBAA exhibit also features new actuators developed to have significantly increased mean time between failures, largely thanks to a brushless DC motor that decreases wear and tear, an electronic current control for lower heat and other refinements to reduce wear and the chance of jamming. It is also showing a variety of heat and fire detectors.