Hamilton Sundstrand promises 787 vindication

Farnborough Air Show » 2008
July 3, 2008, 5:50 AM

Hamilton Sundstrand (Hall 4 Stand F13) has been on the frontline of the ongoing battle to get Boeing’s repeatedly delayed 787 airliner program back on track. It is one of a group of key subsystem suppliers Boeing has entrusted with a pivotal role in the complex supply chain that, at times, has threatened to unravel. But Hamilton Sundstrand president David Hess remains adamant that the ground-breaking 787 development and production strategy will be vindicated in the long run.

“The Boeing 787 is what we call a ‘more electric’ airplane,” Hess told AIN. “It is our largest program, accounting for more than $15 billion in the long term. We’re providing 1,300 major components per aircraft and will be responsible for generating 1.5 megawatts of power on the aircraft.”

In 2004, Boeing selected Hamilton Sundstrand to supply eight major systems packages for the 787 Dreamliner, seven of them won in direct competition with its rival Honeywell. These packages include air-thermal management, ram-air turbine, auxiliary power, the electrical system, various engine systems, fire protection and hydraulic systems.

“Initially Boeing was concerned with the risk levels associated with the software development. We showed them our plan and they were very comfortable with it,” Hess said. “Unfortunately, because of the complexity of a revolutionary aircraft and because Boeing took longer than expected with the requirements definition phase, the overall 787 project is behind schedule. However, Hamilton Sundstrand is on track providing the deliverables to Boeing. The power-on software is completed and we delivered it on time for its first power-on event. We’re now working on the safety of flight software for flight test.”

The program has the company developing some industry innovations. The 787 will be the first passenger aircraft designed with an integrated onboard nitrogen generation system. The NGS produces nitrogen-rich airflow to the fuel tanks to increase fuel tank safety.

The environmental control system provides complete airplane thermal management, including cabin temperature manage- ment and control, fresh airflow, pressurization control, heating and cooling, galley chilling, and cargo and crew rest compartment temperature control. The system also includes liquid cooling for the power electronics cooling, pack bay overheat protection, wheel-well fire protection and windshield washer/wipers. The system features the first electrically driven air-cycle air-conditioning packs, which will have twice the efficiency of the 777 air-conditioning pack, Hess said.

The 1,100-shp auxiliary power system (APS 5000) comprises the auxiliary power unit (APU) and the inlet, exhaust, control and mounting hardware. Unlike conventional APUs that use bleed air, the APS 5000 uses two generators to provide all of the 787’s system requirements. The first so-called “all-electric” APU, it will be, according to Hess, 50-percent quieter and have 10-percent lower emissions than the APU on the Boeing 767.

Geoff Hunt, Hamilton Sundstrand’s vice president for the Boeing 787 program, said the company set out to acquire other firms and resources to put together the necessary assets and expertise to take on a project such as the 787.

“We have been able to put together the whole system better than anyone else in the industry could have done because we have the systems experience. We also have the pedigree having built up something similar, though on a smaller scale, with the Embraer 170 and 190,” Hunt said.

“It’s about taking accountability for a series of subsystems on a particular platform such as the 787 and not looking at them as individual systems but as a sum of the parts,” Hunt explained. “You look at all the different systems and work out how to eliminate redundancy, provide lower weight, better reliability, and lower cost by designing the most integrated system possible.”

Hunt used the start controller as an example as it alone replaces six miles of wiring. “We looked at remote secondary power systems that are positioned around the airplane and identified elements that are redundant,” he explained. “We’ve been able to design a single piece of equipment that can take the place of several others thereby creating a solution for the customer that’s optimized for that particular airplane. It is a strategy that allows us to show value to the customer, which results in our getting a greater share of the airplane. You can do that only if you have responsibility for most, if not all, the systems.”

Hunt said the electrical power system is revolutionary, with 1,500 electrical loads throughout the airplane compared with a few dozen loads on a conventional airplane.
“Look at the Boeing 777; there are maybe four power buses,” he said. “We’ve got 20 buses on the 787, so you can imagine the statistical combination of all the different loads and the buses. They’re managed through primary panels that each handles about 300 loads. Then there’s the remote power distribution system, with 17 remote units that are handling another 1,000 loads all running through various communication buses. It’s a big, complex system that’s been a challenge for us to develop. No one has ever done anything of this complexity before.”

Hamilton Sundstrand is also developing the necessary software to run the systems. Hunt said the hardware is relatively straightforward but the functionality is the challenge.

“You have a number of factors that come into play just because of the sheer magnitude of the electrical power system,” he said. “Of the roughly 7.5 million lines of code Boeing needs to run the aircraft, we are responsible for about one-and-a-half million, of which a million is for our own management system.”

Hunt said it requires about 100,000 lines of code to run the APU and about another 400,000 lines to run the electrical power system. What gives the company the ability to develop such a huge project is a $50 million airplane power system integration facility (APSIF) in Rockford, Illinois.

Through high-speed datalinks with Boeing and with other Hamilton Sundstrand facilities in Connecticut and California, the facility operates as a virtual workspace. Engineers thousands of miles apart have the ability to test and verify systems in a real-time collaborative environment, simplifying the aircraft development process.
“When you’re developing aircraft systems there is always some sort of lab. Normally, it’s going to be the airplane itself, but we’re not the airframe OEM in this case so we had to develop a virtual airplane,” Hunt explained.

The purpose of APSIF is to serve as a systems integrator. It allows Hamilton Sundstrand to have the life-size mock-up in which to develop and integrate the systems side-by-side as they occur in the real aircraft. The company runs it three shifts a day, seven days a week.

The two-story lab also includes an integration control center, cockpit simulator, data acquisition screens and a working APU in a test cell adjacent to the facility.
Boeing has said it plans to deliver 25 Dreamliners in 2009, although it is in the process of building more than that number. According to Hunt, Hamilton Sundstrand will be delivering sufficient sets of hardware in 2008 to build 11 aircraft.

Separately, Gulfstream has chosen Hamilton Sundstrand to provide several major systems on its new G650 business jet, including the primary electrical power generating system, the emergency power ram-air turbine and power distribution boxes. The contract has the potential to generate approximately $100 million in revenue over the life of the program. First flight is scheduled for the second half of 2009 with U.S. type certification and European approval slated for 2011.   

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