The promise of stronger, more durable, lighter weight and less maintenance is a race car driver's dream; and that's how UTC Aerospace Systems is helping shape the wing of the future. The company is transferring knowledge used in Formula One high-performance race cars to high-performance actuation systems for commercial aerospace applications. In advancing the industry, UTC Aerospace Systems, a unit of United Technologies Corp., established a Composite Centre of Excellence in Banbury, United Kingdom-supporting the demand for lighter, stronger and low maintenance actuation system components that can be produced and delivered to customers in significantly less time than traditional manufacturing.
As aircraft manufacturers transition from traditional metals and alloys to composite materials, a host of related systems are being put to the test to match new performance and manufacturing specifications. For example, the composite actuation components produced at the Centre of Excellence can result in up to 30 to 70 percent weight savings on large commercial aircraft.
"The Centre is home to equipment that utilizes new technologies and an automated production line that can produce a fuel pipe in less than four minutes and with only four weeks lead time," said Edward Dryden, General Manager, Composite Centre of Excellence, UTC Aerospace Systems. "In addition, our close proximity to leading universities, research centers, a hub of Formula One manufacturers and UTC Aerospace Systems' Actuation Systems business in Wolverhampton gives us the opportunity to tap into a great knowledge base and exceptional talent pool."
The Centre is currently supplying composite fuel pipes and isolators for the carbon wings of Airbus's A350XWB. In total, the Centre supplies more than 300 fuel pipes and 20 isolators for the wings.
"A key benefit of our composite fuel pipes and isolators is that they help protect the wing from lightning strike damage," added David Chard, Business Development Director, Composite Centre of Excellence, UTC Aerospace Systems. "And they are built to last the entire life of the aircraft. No maintenance is required." In addition, the pipes and isolators offer a weight savings at the aircraft level through the removal of lightning shielding. UTC Aerospace Systems will display a composite transmission shaft, fuel pipe and tie rod at the Paris Air Show.