NBAA Convention News

UTAS Landing Systems Highlights Its Technological Progress on Business Aircraft

 - October 10, 2018, 1:01 PM

As focused on bizav as it is on commercial aviation, UTC Aerospace Systems’ (Booth 633) Landing Systems unit has made considerable progress in achieving greater landing-gear parts commonality on different business-aircraft models from the same OEM.

At the same time, UTAS Landing Systems is progressing toward achieving full compliance with the European Union’s strict Registration, Evaluation, Authorization, and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) environmental-compliance regulations as they apply to business-aircraft parts and systems. Mark Eckert, UTAS’s v-p and general manager of regional and business programs–Landing Systems, told AIN the business unit’s achievements in those two areas are among its most significant technological achievements of recent times and it continues to make progress with them.

UTAS Landing Systems comprises a Goodrich-legacy wheels and brakes facility located in Troy, Ohio, and a landing gear facility in Oakville, Ontario, that were combined into one UTAS business unit in 2014. The unit has achieved particularly strong parts commonality for the landing-gear actuation systems it provides for the Gulfstream G600 and G500, according to Richard Zita, UTAS’s director of business aircraft and helicopter programs-Landing Systems. Of the three gear-uplock actuation systems, two side-brace actuation systems and the nosewheel-retraction system it provides for each of the two aircraft, four are common. “That’s a really great thing, because [each uplock-actuation system] is a line replaceable unit,” said Zita.

Also common to both the G600 and the G500 are several other UTAS-provided landing-gear components such as smaller drag braces and tie-down rings, and the two types share a common nosewheel steering system. Similarly, the wheel-and-brake assemblies UTAS Landing Systems provides for the Bombardier Global 5000 and Global 6000 are common to both types, according to Zita.

In both the Gulfstream and the Bombardier multiple-aircraft-platform cases, UTAS Landing Systems’ parts-commonality efforts benefited from its close cooperation with the OEM. For the Gulfstream G500 and G600, “We were working both agreements at the same time…[and] Gulfstream was looking at having as much commonality between the gears as possible,” said Zita.

Accordingly, UTAS Landing Systems developed a similar geometry for the two types’ landing gears, producing a trailing arm-style design that was “optimized where possible for both the G500 and the G600.” The G600 is a larger aircraft than the G500, “but it was an engineering challenge we were able to overcome,” said Zita. The design work resulted in the two aircraft having “as many parts in common as possible,” including similar nose landing gears, but of necessity some major load-bearing parts of the two aircraft types’ landing gears—such as their main landing gear shock struts—had to be different.

Zita said UTAS Landing Systems also worked in lockstep with Bombardier to obtain type certification for the Global 5000 and the Global 6000, and the two companies’ close cooperation allowed UTAS to qualify the same wheel-and-brake assemblies for both aircraft.

Commercial Experience Applied to Bizav

The considerable progress UTAS Landing Systems has achieved in meeting REACH-compliant business aviation manufacturing standards that don’t use what the European Chemicals Agency calls “substances of very high concern for Authorization” comes from the company’s work on landing gears for commercial widebody aircraft, according to Eckert.

For instance, UTAS Landing Systems does not chrome-plate any landing-gear components in the G500 and G600: instead, it uses high-velocity oxygen fuel (HVOF) spraying to provide the necessary protective coating. The company developed its HVOF-spraying technique for the landing gears it makes for the Airbus A380.

Similarly, the G500 landing gear is UTAS Landing Systems’ first business-jet program that doesn’t use cadmium to protect the high-strength steel on the gears’ load-bearing components. Instead, UTAS protects G500 landing-gear components with a zinc-nickel formulation, which the company first certified for its landing gear for the Airbus A350 XWB. Using the zinc-nickel formulation in landing gear components “assists with corrosion protection also,” Zita noted.

UTAS Landing Systems is progressively introducing throughout its entire business-aviation portfolio the REACH-compliant manufacturing techniques and materials it first developed for its commercial-aviation contracts. While the process is already well under way in its Landing Gear business, UTAS Landing Systems’ Wheels & Brakes unit is also working to ensure its manufacturing techniques and materials for business aircraft are fully REACH-compliant, said Eckert.

In one example of commercial-to-bizav technology sharing, the company is now deploying its commercial-aircraft carbon-brake design and manufacturing expertise for business aviation applications. The new Cessna Citation Longitude is fitted with UTAS carbon brakes.

As a result of its often-pioneering work in the design of commercial-aircraft landing-gear systems, the company holds considerable further intellectual-property resources that—when the business case is right for the OEM—it can offer business-aircraft manufacturers. For instance, said Eckert, “One of my roles was as the program manager for the Boeing 787, which had the first commercially available electric[ally actuated] brakes, so we have years of experience in fielding electric systems replacing hydraulic systems. We continue with development in that area and [for any OEM that decides its new business-aircraft design needs such a system] we have a technological road-map to the future for a complete, electrically actuated ATA 32 system.”

Eckert concedes that, for any business-aircraft manufacturer, switching from using a traditional, hydraulically actuated landing gear design to an electrically actuated gear “is a very complex system approach to designing an aircraft and is a risk.” However, some business-aircraft OEMs are technologically capable of taking such a step, said Eckert, though he acknowledged, “I don’t know if we have talked to an OEM yet that has considered that.”

UTAS Landing Systems’ approach to such potentially disruptive aircraft-project discussions is dictated by its business philosophy, which Eckert said is highly customer-focused and calls for it always to offer the project-participation level the OEM customer wants his company to provide. For instance, said Eckert, should the OEM want to work with UTAS Landing Systems on a joint-definition basis, as Gulfstream Aerospace did with the G500 and G600, it is happy to do so. Often, “with newer OEMs, we’re able to work on a joint-development basis,” he added.

For any customer, UTAS Landing Systems is able to provide everything from an aircraft’s entire landing-gear package to individual landing gear components or systems, including proximity sensing systems, steering systems, or actuation systems to individual landing gear components. Because of the company’s depth of experience and industry presence, “we have the ability to support OEMs in how they package their systems and make sure they are reliable and successful,” said Eckert.

Apart from its extensive commercial-aviation presence, in the business aviation sector UTAS Landing Systems provides landing gear systems or components for Gulfstream’s G450, G550, G650, G500 and G600; Bombardier’s Global 5000 and Global 6000; the Piaggio P180; the Embraer Legacy 650E, the business-jet version of the ERJ-145 regional jet; the Pilatus PC-9 and (as an option) PC-12; the new Cessna Citation Longitude; and numerous smaller Textron Aviation business-aircraft models, including the Beechcraft King Air family and some Cessnas.