Airbus flies with composites14 April 2010 | By Frank in Aerospace Industry
When the new Airbus A350 XWB (XWB stands for eXtra Wide Body) takes off on its maiden flight in two years time, this will also represent a milestone for the composites industry. 50% of the fuselage of the wide-bodied aircraft, which is being developed as a competitor to the Boeing 787, is made of composite materials. Last summer, Airbus purchased six size 6000 “Viper” Fiber Placement Systems from MAG to produce fuselage parts with a diameter of up to 6.3 metres.
Up to 92% of the fuselage of the A350 XWB aircraft will consist of composites made using the “Viper” machines. These parts account for over 50% of the structure’s weight. 14 other MAG composites plants are also in use at Airbus and its European partners – four “Viper” and ten “Charger” ATL tape laying systems which are deployed to produce body parts, wing elements, jet engine casings, stabilisers and other structural components for the A320, A330, A340, A380 and A400M models.
MAG will be one of the exhibitors at the international Composites Europe (CE) trade fair, to be held from 14 to 16 September 2010 in Essen. Composite materials for the aerospace industry will play a major role here, with numerous companies servicing this segment. Flugzeug-Union Süd GmbH (FUS) is one example; it supplies materials like vacuum films, separating foils, tear-off fabrics, liquid separating agents, sealing tapes and absorbent non-wovens to nearly all the major producers in the aviation industry. These are used to produce e.g. horizontal stabilisers and fins, wings, landing flaps, radomes, pressure bulkheads, interior fittings, doors, rotor blades and fuselage segments.
Tajima GmbH is presenting its machine technology for preform manufacture. Its TFP machines are distinguished by the fact that the fibres – be they CRP, GRP, or aramid – are arranged in the same way as later in the component itself. The size of the laying field, the number of heads and the fixing device for the carrier material can be individually adapted. The Tajima machines are used to produce structural frame parts and also parts of the aircraft skin.
The Krempel group supplies prepreg materials with thermosetting and thermoplastic matrix systems, complex fibre-reinforced components, filament-winding tubes, extruded plastic profiles and plates to the aerospace industry. The composite materials have been fitted in different types of Airbuses for over 20 years now. The handles of the emergency exits in the Airbus A 320, for example, are made from Wacosit profiles manufactured by Krempel.
Roughly 100 customers in the aviation industry use adhesives, laminating resins and self-extinguishing materials in aircraft interiors supplied by Axson GmbH. Thanks to their self-extinguishing properties these materials are ideally suited for this purpose. A further company active in this field is Huntsman. The company has developed a new nano-hardened epoxy adhesive paste with good mechanical properties for joining and piecing together metal and composite aircraft structures.
For those who cannot wait until the technology show in Essen, an event will be held in just two months focusing on the latest developments in the aerospace industry. Aerospace Testing, Europe’s leading get-together for the aerospace industry, will be held from 18 to 20 May in Hamburg. The event brings together experienced developers and the leading trade suppliers: plenty of valuable technical information will be on offer.