Manufacturers are relying more on composite materials for business aircraft construction thanks to a drop in manufacturing costs and better automation. Largely because of improved curing processes, OEMs are gradually eliminating expensive tooling and slashing the overall number of parts needed for a given aerostructure.
GMT, a Rhode Island-based composites specialist, recently delivered two highly customized showers to MAV Aircraft Services for installation in an executive Boeing 767 being done by the Fort Worth-based interiors specialist. Both composite enclosures measure 40 inches in diameter, 80 inches tall and feature curved, transparent Lexan doors and a slightly raised floor that allows water to run off around the edge and into a hidden drain.
McDonnell Douglas MD-369D, Volcano, Hawaii, June 15, 2003 – The commercial pilot and three passengers were killed when the MD-369D lost power and crashed onto a rugged hardened lava flow in the Volcanoes National Park. The NTSB determined that the loss of power, and the accident, was caused by the fatigue fracture and separation of the compressor coupling adapter.
The FAA is accepting comments until August 16 on a proposed Airworthiness Directive that would affect as many as 3,572 TFE731-2 and -3 turbofans on U.S.-registered aircraft. If the measure is enacted, the engines’ low-pressure turbine stage 1 disks would have to be repetitively checked for fatigue cracks. An estimated 1,900 of those engines would require disk replacement under the proposed AD.
BizJet International of Tulsa, Okla., has announced the operation of its new plasma spray machine. “The new plasma spray system lets us restore engine components damaged by corrosion and worn by normal engine operation,” said Robert Peters, vice president of engine maintenance. The company is using the new process on Pratt & Whitney Canada, Rolls-Royce, Honeywell and General Electric engine parts.
Rolls-Royce’s U.S. branch has acquired the exclusive rights to use a new heat-resistant turbine blade coating invented by Iowa State University. The coating improves the durability and reliability of the ceramic thermal barrier applied to the blades to withstand metal temperatures approaching 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit.
GKN Aerospace is working toward out-of-autoclave processing of carbon-epoxy laminated structures upward of 23 feet long and 275 pounds in weight and has already manufactured components up to 8.2 feet long and weighing 175 pounds in an R&D environment.
The future of composites may lie in carbon nanotubes. Nano composites have already found their way into cars and sports gear, and now specialists in this technology are looking for aerospace applications.
One of the difficulties with natural leather hide is that it doesn’t stretch consistently, making it difficult for upholsterers to work and resulting in more loss than desirable during the cutting process. Tapis’ new “two-way stretch tapisuede” has a polyester and polyurethane composition and comes in a maximum width of 59 inches and 33-yard rolls. According to the Armonk, N.Y.
Spectrum Aeronautical, the California-based start-up manufacturer, said it is taking orders for its all-composite business jets “faster than we can build them.”