The still-under-wraps Dassault Falcon SMS (super-midsize) will feature an empennage made entirely of composite materials, sources have told AIN. Dassault has reportedly tapped Fokker to supply the complete empennage, using thermoplastic resin. AIN understands that these will be the largest thermoplastic composites parts yet used in civil aviation. These materials are said to be more expensive but easier to manufacture and more impact-tolerant than thermosets.
Corpair Composites is in the process of renovating a 20,000-sq-ft facility in O’Fallon, Mo., and expects to begin operations there this fall. Avmats is the holding company for the new business aviation composite maintenance, repair and overhaul facility. “Last June I was approached by Butch Geissmen, chairman and CEO of Aviation Material and Technical Support [Avmats], about starting a composite shop. He said it was the missing piece of the Avmats puzzle,” Bill Kener, vice president of Composites for Corpair Composites, told AIN.
The aero-acoustic geometry fan blades, fan case and several other parts of CFM International’s Leap engine series will be the first major engine application of a new technology, 3-D woven composites. The process was pioneered by Albany Engineering Composites (AEC), a U.S. company that has teamed with CFM parent company Snecma and has granted the French engine maker exclusivity for its process (for propulsion applications) for the life of the Leap program.
Rolls-Royce turned to GKN for help in alleviating service-life limitations caused by harsh heat and environmental conditions inside some of its engines. GKN’s engineers considered the problem very carefully and, somewhat unusually these days, concluded that the answer didn’t lie with advanced composite materials.
London, Ontario, Canada-based Advanced Composites Training Institute (ACT), a division of Renaissance Aeronautics Associates, has announced it is adding two new courses for 2012: Composites for General Aviation Pilots and Composites for Commercial Aviation Pilots.
Hampson Industries is enjoying a string of new contracts and ongoing programs that will help the U.S. company continue growing as a supplier of tooling used to manufacture structural aircraft components and as manufacturer of the components themselves.
Even during the most unsettling periods of the recent economic downturn, GKN Aerospace continued to invest heavily in being at aerospace’s technological leading edge. Prime evidence of this is its leadership role in the establishment of the UK’s new National Composites Centre, where work is due to start this summer.
Aluminum giant Alcoa (H5 F220) is here exhibiting a fuselage section manufactured with advanced aluminum-lithium alloy sheet that was stretch-formed on existing tooling by Spirit Aerosystems’ factory in Wichita, Kansas. U.S.-based Alcoa is targeting the next generation of single-aisle aircraft (with a clear focus on Boeing’s expected decision this year) as the potential first applications.
Not so long ago, the ascent of composites in aerostructures manufacturing seemed an unstoppable progression that could only happen at the expense of metals. Fresh thinking at progressive companies like GKN Aerospace is changing that thinking, with engineers increasingly coming to the conclusion that the two families of materials can coexist in cooperative harmony to give manufacturers the best of both worlds.