Liebherr-Aerospace underlined its investment in the future by revealing that in 2014 it spent more than 17 percent of its revenue on research and development. That level of investment has led to the company continuing to win important new business, the latest of which is to provide the power drive unit and hydraulic motor for the leading-edge slats of the Boeing 777X.
Liebherr has also landed another major role in the 777X, supplying the wing-fold subsystem and associated latch pin actuator and secondary lock actuator. At more than 235 feet, the unfolded span of the 777X is too big for standard airport gates, so a wing-fold system is incorporated to reduce span by 11.5 feet on each wing.
Recently the company announced that it is forming a 50-50 joint venture with Rolls-Royce to provide the power gearbox for the engine OEM’s UltraFan project, slated for 2025 and offering a 25-percent fuel-burn reduction compared to the current Trent. While Rolls-Royce is leading the design effort, Liebherr is focusing on the manufacturing engineering side.
A speciality of the company is aircraft air systems, and it has been selected to provide the bleed air system for the Airbus A330neo, a role it already performs on the A320neo. Liebherr (Chalet 279) also provides full air management systems–including cabin air, pressurization and bleed air–for several new types in development, including the Bombardier CSeries and Global 7000/8000; Embraer E2 and KC-390; Comac C919; and Dassault Falcon 5X.
R&D activities in this area are focusing on the “more electric” aircraft. Liebherr-Aerospace has been developing electrical bleedless technology as part of the Clean Sky initiative. It plans to demonstrate this technology in flight this year for a regional airliner application, and in 2016 on a “single aisle” airliner. In both cases the technology will be demonstrated on testbed aircraft.