Technology Update High-volume producer of machining centers highlights horizontals Manufacturing

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Technology Update High-volume producer of machining centers highlights horizontals Manufacturing
June 2008
The new EC-630PP (PP for
pallet pool) horizontal machining center from Haas
Automation Inc. was one of
the company’s highlighted
products at the recent Westec
show, where the company’s
sprawling display was front and
center. The company says the
machine tool dramatically expands the production capability of its EC series of horizontal machining centers (HMCs).
The addition of a fully integrated, six-station pallet pool
to the shop-proven Haas
EC-630 brings true “lights
out” machining capability to
small- and medium-sized manufacturers and production
shops, the company says.
Designed for high-volume production and unattended operation, the EC-630PP features a 40 x 33 x 35-in work
envelope, a 50-taper gearedhead spindle, a six-station pallet pool with 630-mm pallets,
and a high-precision 1-degree
pallet indexer. For long-cycle
production with minimal noncutting, the EC-630 is
equipped with a 72-pocket
side-mount tool changer, a
large-volume coolant tank, and
a high-capacity belt conveyor
for efficient chip removal. Also
standard are 710-ipm rapids,
a 15-in color LCD monitor
with USB port, 1 MB of program memory, a flood and
washdown coolant system,
and a programmable coolant
Each of the 630-mm pallets
in the six-station pool has a
load capacity up to 2640 lb.
Patrick Ponticel
High-volume producer of machining centers highlights horizontals
The EC-630PP was an imposing figure at the recent
Westec Show in Los Angeles.
The pallets can be scheduled
individually according to priority and sequencing requirements, which allows high-priority parts to be machined first
and/or staged more often.
Completed pallets are returned automatically to the
holding location, or can be
sequenced to a protected operator station for immediate
unloading and reloading. The
machine’s enclosure accommodates parts up to 39.4 in
in both diameter and height.
Another highlight was
Haas’ newest horizontal machining center, the EC-550,
which represents the latest
expansion of the company’s
rugged line of high-productivity HMCs. It features a
30 x 34 x 32-in work envelope, 50-taper geared-head
spindle, dual pallet changer
with 550-mm pallets,
50-pocket side-mount tool
changer, and a built-in 1-degree pallet indexer.
The EC-550’s standard
geared head couples the motor directly to the spindle
through a Haas-built, highprecision gearbox. This
smooth-running system is very
efficient, the company says,
Haas’ newest horizontal
machining center is the EC-550.
Aerospace engineering & manufacturing
June 2008
The EC-550’s optional inline direct-drive, 50-taper spindle
spins to 10,000 rpm for high-speed work.
and offers tremendous thermal
stability. The two-speed gearbox provides 450 lb∙ft of
torque for heavy material removal, and speeds to 6000
rpm for finish cuts. For highspeed work, an optional
10,000-rpm inline direct-drive
spindle is available. Driven by
a 45-hp vector dual-drive system, this spindle yields 170
lb∙ft of torque at 1400 rpm,
and a peak power rating of 60
hp at 7000 rpm.
Each of the EC-550’s pallets handles a 2205-lb load,
and the servo-driven pallet
changer swaps pallets quickly.
A separate, protected load
station allows the operator to
safely load and unload parts or
change fixtures on one pallet
while parts are being machined on the other, keeping
spindle run-time at a maximum.
For long-cycle production
with minimal downtime, the
EC-550 also is equipped with
a large-volume coolant tank
and a high-capacity belt conveyor for chip removal. Also
standard are 710-ipm rapids,
a 15-in color LCD monitor
with USB port, 1 MB of program memory, a flood and
washdown coolant system,
and a programmable coolant
High-productivity options
for the EC-550 include, in ad-
dition to the 10,000-rpm spindle, a full fourth axis, a
72-pocket side-mount tool
changer, high-pressure
through-spindle coolant, a
wireless probing system, and
high-speed machining software.
Haas claims that more than
85,000 of its CNC machines
and 53,000 of its rotary products are in use around the
world. In 2008, the company
will build more than 14,000
machines, with about 60% of
them going to international
All Haas products are manufactured in the company’s
1 million ft2 facility in Southern
Patrick Ponticel
BAE restarts production of 1990s-era rad-hard chips
In aerospace and defense, there’s a lot to
be said for wanting the latest and greatest. Advanced materials and miniaturization let engineers push system design
into heretofore-uncharted territory.
Sometimes, though, you want the tried
and true—particularly for applications in
space where a failure can mean the loss
of a billion-dollar satellite. In many instances, an integrated circuit based on an
older design is more valuable to satellite
designers than a newer, more capable
one because legacy chips are already radiation-hardened and qualified for space
flight while newer ones must go through a
long, costly validation phase before they
can be qualified.
So, imagine the consternation among
satellite and space instrument designers
Aerospace engineering & manufacturing
Acting on demand
from satellite
manufacturers, BAE
Systems has
restarted production
of a 1990s-era
integrated circuit at
its Manassas, VA,
foundry. Shown is an
Endura physicalvapor-deposition
system from Applied
Materials that allows
BAE Systems to
apply low-resistivity
films in a single
system and improve
manufacturing yields.
June 2008
several years ago when Actel Corp. discontinued production of a pair of fieldprogrammable gate arrays (FPGAs) that
have seen widespread acceptance in
commercial and military satellites. BAE
Systems was the original manufacturer of
the FPGAs, with the technology and design owned by Actel.
En masse, all the major satellite manufacturers such as Boeing, Lockheed
Martin, and Space Systems/Loral let
BAE know that they’d have a ready market if they were willing to re-license the
FPGA from Actel and restart the production line.
“It was a pure business case; there
was an established customer base and
we had a good idea of the quantities
needed over the next few years,” said
Donald Francis, Program Manager for
Advanced Products at the BAE Systems
Electronics & Integrated Solutions foundry in Manassas, VA.
BAE expects to manufacture between
5000 and 10,000 of the FPGAs over the
next five years, with a value of $25 million
to $50 million.
FPGAs are valuable to designers and
engineers because they can be customized in the field and tailored to any number of applications, as opposed to programmable read-only memory (PROM)
chips that are programmed at the factory.
These particular FPGAs—model
RH1280 with 8000 gates and model
RH1020 with 2000 gates—are typically
used in communications satellites for processor control and data handling for navigation purposes.
“The reason the need is so great for
older FPGAs is that government systems
in general are fairly conservative systems,”
said Francis. “Once they’ve been successful, there is a tendency to use the
same systems if possible.
“There are a lot of satellites still making
use of 10-year-old technology because if
it’s qualified then manufacturers like to
use it. There’s a very high cost to certify
something for space, and if you can use
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engineering & manufacturing
June 2008
the same type of hardware, you can save
an enormous amount of money.”
BAE’s resumption of FPGA manufacturing was not just a matter of flipping a
switch, however. Three years had passed
between the time that production
stopped and restart began, a period of
time in which the foundry was completely
shut down for a $100 million upgrade that
was partially government funded. (It was
the shut down of the Manassas foundry
that helped prompt Actel to discontinue
the RH1280 and RH1020 FPGAs in the
first place.)
The foundry was now populated with
the most advanced manufacturing equipment in the world, but had to dial down
that capability to build FPGAs based on
1998 designs.
“We effectively had to build these
parts identical to how they looked in the
past,” said Francis. “We have a lot more
capability now but couldn’t use it. The
biggest challenge was building a new
part with new tools and making it appear
like it was built with older technology.”
The first fabrications of the FPGAs began in the fourth quarter of 2007, but not
without some false starts.
“It didn’t go exactly as we expected it
to,” said Francis. “We had to compensate
for some tools that no longer exist in the
industry. The earlier tools used temperature and pressure to implement a process. The new tools can’t modify temperature, only pressure and time.
“It’s not so much that the tools aren’t
as versatile; it is more about the processes developed with the tools you had at
that time. You have to do things differently
to mimic the same processes.”
Fortunately for BAE, the Manassas
foundry still employed 80% of the engineers who worked on the FPGAs in the
1990s. Francis credits their experience in
processes and test engineering with
helping the facility master the challenge of
making what was old new again.
There are only a handful of foundries in
the U.S. capable of making rad-hard
chips. Honeywell has a facility in
Plymouth, MN, while National
Semiconductor and IBM devote a small
part of their business to building rad-hard
With so few foundries manufacturing
rad-hard chips, the problems of availability and obsolescence will only get worse.
That may prompt companies such as BAE
to produce more of the hard-to-get components internally.
“Over the next four or five years, I expect that BAE will look hard at the parts
we need for our higher assemblies and
may bring some of these parts in our
foundry ourselves,” said Francis.
Barry Rosenberg
A quarter turn for fast fastening
Rivet-on installation speeds
assembly and spring-loaded
release simplifies removal for
panels with multiple fasteners.
When the need for fastening
strength and reliability are accompanied by a desire for
quick assembly and convenient access, one may consider the use of time-tested
quarter-turn fastening solu-
tions, commonly referred to as
DZUS fasteners manufactured
by Southco.
With the wide range of
product design refinements
added to this technology over
the past century, a broad selection of off-the-shelf systems
is now available—including
designs developed specifically
with a high clamp load, positive stud retention, fuel-saving
weight reduction, and vibration
resistance for the requirements of aerospace applications.
The fixed cam designs incorporated into quarter-turn
quick-access fasteners provide a good balance between
performance and intuitive
functionality in applications
that might otherwise require a
Aerospace engineering & manufacturing
nut-and-bolt or machine screw
fastener. These fasteners are
often found where service access and refurbishment are
required more frequently. From
the avionics in the cockpit, to
entertainment systems, to
more structural applications
such as engine cowlings and
seating, quarter-turn solutions
are found in numerous applications on a wide variety of
The quick and repeatable
access that quarter-turn fasteners provide can be introduced into just about any configuration an engineer might
encounter. Turnkey solutions
are available for a wide variety
of installation environments—
including blind-hole applications, near-edge installations,
composite panels and frames,
and aluminum—and often offer
low-cost installation as well.
Quick-access fastener
head styles can include
winged designs for tool-free
installation and removal, slotted or Phillips-head recess for
use with standard screwdrivers, or specialty-tool designs
for restricted access. And they
are available in a variety of metallic alloys, platings, and engineered thermoplastics to
match the needs of the application.
How one determines the
correct quarter-turn solution
depends on the parameters of
the application. In addition to
identifying the right material,
quarter-turn fasteners are selected based on load capabilaero-online.org
June 2008
among the different selection
Whichever system is se-
Potted receptacle designed
specifically for installation in
composite materials.
Intuitive interface and multiple
color options accommodate
industrial design preferences.
ity, vibration resistance, cycle
life, and the ability to accommodate variations in material
thickness. That last factor is
extremely important.
Quarter-turns operate on
the principle of a fixed cam.
This means that in 90° of motion, the fastener must engage
a receptacle and lock the outer panel to the inner panel or
frame. The more travel designed into the cam, the more
variation the fastener can accommodate. However, to increase the travel, the angle of
the cam must be increased,
which tends to decrease the
cycle life of the system. For
this reason, the various quarter-turn designs available will
normally include trade-offs
lected, most quarter-turn fasteners deliver similar benefits:
• Time and cost savings:
Snap-in, clip-on, and adhesive-mount components reduce assembly time and de-
Aerospace engineering & manufacturing
June 2008
crease installation costs.
Quarter-turn fasteners also
reduce service time for subsequent disassembly and re-assembly, decreasing the overall
cost of ownership.
• Vibration resistance: To accommodate variations in material thickness, spring compliance is built in to most quarter-turn solutions. This compli-
ance has the added benefit of
providing positive locking,
which offers resistance to releasing under vibration.
• Design flexibility: Standard
quarter-turn systems can be
adapted to multiple material
specifications, including lightweight aluminum and composites, while keeping the interface consistent and intuitive
for the customer. Standard
options in actuation, installation styles, ejection, component retention, and trim enhance the opportunities for
more application-friendly designs.
• Ergonomics/industrial design: An intuitive self-aligning
interface allows for easy fastening and access with simple
tools, security tool recesses,
or ergonomic hand actuation.
Meanwhile, the fasteners can
accommodate a designer’s
color scheme and industrial
design concepts.
John Snyder, Product Manager,
Southco DZUS Quarter-Turn
Fasteners, wrote this article for
Aerospace Engineering &
Manufacturing magazine.
Sharing ideas for more efficient airplane manufacture and assembly
Putting an airplane together is
a complex job, no doubt about
it, which explains why engineers are always trying to
come up with new tools and
approaches to subtract complexity—and cost—from the
equation. It’s not unheard of
that ideas for new tools and
approaches come out of a single person’s head, but it’s
when several heads get together that ideas really begin
to take shape.
That is the idea behind SAE
International’s Aerospace
Manufacturing and Automated
Fastening conference and exhibition slated for September
16-18 in Charleston, SC.
Round up a bunch of manufacturing engineers in an appropriate venue, provide them
with some organized learning
and sharing opportunities,
then turn them loose.
“Attendees will hear presentations of papers regarding
innovative fastening, fixturing,
robotics, and automation ac-
AEROFAST technical program chairman
David Dotson was part of the implementation
team for the automated spar assembly tool
(shown) for the Boeing 777 Freighter and
ended up serving as the original controller
system administrator for the tool. The one-ofa-kind tool is supplied by Giddings & Lewis.
Aerospace engineering & manufacturing
The nose of the
Boeing 787
Dreamliner, known as
section 41, is built by
Spirit AeroSystems in
Wichita, KS, then
shipped to Everett,
WA, for final
complishments in all levels of
the aerospace industry and be
able to speak with the people
who have made those accomplishments happen,” said
David Dotson, the Operations
Engineer in New Product
Development at Boeing Co.
who is serving as Chairman of
the AEROFAST portion of the
SAE conference. “In addition,
leading suppliers of hole-prep-
aration, fastening, tooling, and
metrology components and
equipment will have exhibits
that display the latest solutions
for manufacturing requirements. The conference is also
a great opportunity for networking in the aerospace fastening and manufacturing
AEROFAST is SAE’s acronym for its long-running
June 2008
Aerospace Automated
Fastening Conference. This
year it is being merged with
another SAE event, the
Aerospace Manufacturing
Technology Conference. More
than 80 presentations are
planned, with topics ranging
from advanced composites
fabrication and joining technologies to analysis and modeling tools.
Boeing will have a large
presence in the technical program. Dotson noted that
Boeing Commercial Airplanes
is exploring the use of more
“right-sized” equipment that is
“tailored to a particular statement of work, as opposed to
traditional automated fastening
equipment that essentially becomes a control station by itself. The idea is to have more
than one fastener being installed at the same time.”
The use of right-sized
equipment and other innovations, such as multiple-spindle
machines, are helping the industry realize greater efficiencies, according to Dotson.
Electroimpact is among
the companies producing advanced automated fastening
equipment for Boeing (as well
as other aircraft makers), and
it will be exhibiting at the SAE
show. In accordance with his
company’s policy, Dotson declined to comment on
Electroimpact’s role, but he
did say Boeing “is not in the
business of producing equipment.” Typically, Boeing research and development
groups design and prototype
a wide variety of equipment,
including fastening equipment. “Designs are ofaero-online.org
ten awarded, via contract, to
equipment design needs fursuppliers who provide produc- ther development by the suption equipment. Often,
the Aerospace
plier, but
the sup450-790 adr7 1/2pg,
& Mfg February
plier only needs to package,
factory-harden, and replicate.”
2008 issue
Patrick Ponticel
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Aerospace engineering & manufacturing
June 2008
GE/Rolls-Royce team completes F136 high-altitude tests
The first F136 engine undergoes developmental altitude
tests at Arnold Air Force Base in Tennessee.
A General Electric/
Rolls Royce F136
engine, the alternate
powerplant for the
F-35 Lightning II Joint
Strike Fighter, is
tested at intermediate
power conditions at
Arnold Engineering
Development Center’s
aero-propulsion J-2
test cell.
Aerospace engineering & manufacturing
The GE/Rolls-Royce fighter
engine team has completed a
high-altitude afterburner testing program at the U.S. Air
Force Arnold Engineering
Development Center (AEDC)
in Tennessee, including common exhaust hardware for the
F-35 Lightning II aircraft.
The F136 is a 40,000-lbthrust alternate fighter jet engine that will be available to
power all variants of the F-35
for the U.S. military and its
eight partner nations. The
F-35 is a stealth multi-role
fighter with both air-to-ground
and air-to-air capabilities that
is designed to meet warfighting needs, including survivability, precision engagement capability, and mobility.
All test objectives were met
using an engine configured
with conventional takeoff and
landing (CTOL) and short
takeoff vertical landing
(STOVL) common exhaust
systems. The engine configuration included a productionsize fan and functional augmentor allowing several run
periods to full afterburner operation. The STOVL version is
scheduled to replace the U.S.
Marine Corps’ AV-8B Harrier,
the Royal Navy’s Sea Harrier,
and the Royal Air Force’s
GR7 Harrier.
“The F136 employs the
most advanced, proven technologies, and the design—
which is optimized for the F-35
Lightning II—will provide affordable growth and lower
maintenance costs,” said Mark
Rhodes, Senior Vice President
of the fighter engine team. “The
F136 will benefit the F-35 program with affordable technology and drive down costs.”
A second F136 engine is
being tested at GE’s facility in
Peebles, OH, including both
CTOL and STOVL controls
technology test missions.
Testing began on schedule,
and all of the CTOL test objectives were accomplished in
mid-March. STOVL testing remained under way at the time
of publication.
Both the common hardware
testing at AEDC and the ongoing tests at Peebles mark
milestones for the F136 program. The two engines were
originally produced during the
pre-system development and
demonstration (SDD) contract. Since then, the powerplants have been updated with
a new fan, augmentor, and
controls technology designed
June 2008
during the SDD process.
The pre-SDD engines have
totaled more than 600 h of
test time. The first full SDD
engine is scheduled to begin
testing by early 2009, with
first flight in the F-35 to follow
in 2010.
The fighter engine team recently completed a critical design review, validating the design of the engine. The F136
program remains on schedule
and within budget. It is fully
funded by the U.S. government for FY2008. More than
half of the SDD funding for the
engine has been appropriated,
and the U.S. government has
invested more than $2 billion
in the program.
“The fighter engine team
continues to deliver exceptional
performance and grow confidence in the F136 engine
through a detailed and exten-
sive testing regimen,” said Jean
Lydon-Rodgers, President of
the GE/Rolls-Royce fighter
engine team. “Based on our
successful test results and the
recent completion of our critical design review, we’re on
track to begin testing the F136
production configuration in just
a few months.”
The SDD phase is scheduled to run through 2013; the
first production F136 engines
are scheduled to be delivered
in 2012 for the F-35 Lightning
II aircraft.
About 800 engineers and
technicians are involved with
the F136 program at GE
Aviation’s Cincinnati, OH,
headquarters, and at RollsRoyce facilities in Indianapolis,
IN, and Bristol, England.
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Aerospace engineering & manufacturing
June 2008
A fuel-cell first
is gaining acceptance in ground-vehicle
applications, but this aviation initiative by
Boeing Research and Technology-Europe
(BR&TE) looks destined to play an important part in the ongoing search for more
environmentally friendly ways of flying.
Nobody in Boeing’s Phantom Works
organization is suggesting that this is going to lead to a 737 replacement powered
by fuel cells, but the results of the program will undoubtedly encourage new
applications to emerge in due course,
With the global aerospace community
committed to a greener future, a Boeingled research team has successfully flown
what it says is the world’s first manned
aircraft powered by hydrogen fuel cells.
Fuel-cell technology itself is not new, and
The experimental Diamond Dimona demonstrator airplane modified to fly purely on hydrogen fuel lands after its historic test flight.
Fuel-cell stacks
Water reservoirs
Air filter
Motor controller/inverter
Electric motor
Lithium-ion battery
Hydrogen tank
Power management & distribution
Fuel cell balance of plant
This cutaway image of the fuel-cell demonstrator shows major airplane modifications and
new fittings.
Aerospace engineering & manufacturing
perhaps for UAVs, small manned aircraft,
or next-generation auxiliary power units.
The big breakthrough this time is the
achievement of sustained straight and
level flight relying on fuel-cell power
alone, producing zero emissions—just
water and heat.
“This is a most inspiring way toward a
greener future,” said John Tracy, Boeing’s
Chief Technology Officer and Senior Vice
President-Engineering, Operations, and
Technology, during a test flight at Ocana,
a small general aviation airfield just a few
miles south of Madrid. “We have new
technologies and some of the best engineers in Europe working together to provide affordable solutions to environmental
challenges. One of the greatest contributions we can make is to pioneer new
technologies to give us a tangible, powerful lead that will take us to progressive
new products. This is vital so that future
generations can enjoy the benefits of
global air transport.”
June 2008
The baseline airplane platform is a
53.5-ft-wingspan Dimona, a two-seat
composite-structure motor-glider manufactured by Diamond Aircraft Industries
of Austria. The modified hybrid power
system comprises hydrogen-gas-fuelled
proton-exchange-membrane fuel cells
and a lightweight lithium-ion battery power pack linked to an electric motor that is
coupled to a conventional propeller. The
hybrid system generates a total of 45 kW,
with the fuel-cell element providing 23
kW—sufficient for cruise—and the lithium-ion batteries providing another 22 kW
of power for takeoff. The batteries are
disconnected once target altitude has
been reached.
Replacing the conventional powerplant
aboard the airplane and integrating the
new hybrid system was a major engineering and systems-integration task that required removing almost everything from in
front of the engine compartment bulkhead
and re-fitting the space with the electric
motor, fuel-cell stacks, water tanks, and
air filter, with all necessary pipe work and
electrical connections.
Fitting the new power management
and distribution system and motor controller/inverter system units in the second
pilot seat position, with the battery pack
and hydrogen tank behind the pilot, required careful attention to such related
issues as maintaining an acceptable center of gravity to ensure safe airplane handling at all stages of the flight profile.
Even the weight of the pilot became an
important factor in calculating how the
reconfigured airplane would fly. Balance
was crucial.
The tank contained 34 L of compressed hydrogen gas and there were
two forward-mounted 10-L water tanks.
Although the team was keen to use standard components wherever possible, a
high proportion of the overall propulsion
system was custom-built for this application. The brushless electric motor was
originally designed to power an automobile. Cockpit instrumentation was modified to provide the pilot with suitable
warnings should there be an “over-powering” problem, or temperature issues.
But the engine performed very well during
the test flights and both the pilot and
ground observers noted almost silent operation compared to a normal light air-
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Nick West
June 2008
Technical Team Leader Nieves Lapena-Rey (left), said, “We have learned a lot about how to
manage the integration of a fuel cell and battery-powered propulsion system.”
Aerospace engineering & manufacturing
Nick West
A close-up of the modified engine bay shows fuel-cell racks at rear and electric motor at right.
craft. With the hybrid power system functioning as intended, the fuel cells converting the fuel directly into electricity without
combustion or mechanical energy, there
were zero carbon-dioxide emissions, the
wastewater being used to cool the fuelcell stack.
First test flight took place in early
February, with two more in both late
February and early March, completing the
planned initial flight-test program. Using
the full hybrid power combination, the
modified Dimona, bearing Boeing
Phantom Works markings, taxied out at
Ocana and then took off and climbed
steadily to 3300 ft over the airfield site.
The takeoff run was slightly longer than
normal but the climb rate was smooth and
uneventful. The aircraft flew at 62 mph for
approximately 20 min on power solely
generated by the fuel cells.
BR&TE is located in Madrid, Spain, but
the Fuel Cell Demonstrator Airplane program has been a truly international effort,
spread over five years. The U.K. company
Intelligent Energy was responsible for
the design, development, and assembly
of the fuel-cell system. Gore of Germany
built the membrane electrode assemblies,
Madrid-based IIC built the thermal-management system for the electric motor
(supplied by UQM Technologies of the
U.S.), Saft of France designed and assembled the auxiliary batteries and emergency backup battery, and the MTPropeller (from Germany) propeller was
modified by Madrid’s TAM to mechanically
couple to the electric motor. BR&TE
worked closely with Madrid’s Inventia in
developing a CATIA model for the demonstrator aircraft and on the preliminary
design for the installation of all the components. Also from Madrid, avionics
group Aerlyper performed the minor airframe modifications, while Air Liquide
was responsible for the detailed design
and assembly of the onboard fuel system
and refueling station.
Richard Gardner
June 2008
Cell phones take flight in Europe
While a multitude of airlines and communications providers have begun testing
the reality of air-to-ground cell phone use
in flight since the European Commission
approved mobile phone use on planes,
the first actual commercial flight where
passengers were able to use their personal mobile phones for both voice and
data occurred this past March on an
Airbus A340-300 flying at 30,000 ft en
route to Casablanca. Emirates was the
carrier and the system delivering the technology was a group effort of Inmarsat,
AeroMobile, and Altobridge.
Mike Fitzgerald, CEO of Altobridge,
explained that the Altobridge system focuses on bandwidth utilization. The GSM
(Global System for Mobile
Communications) is enabled on the
plane, creating an “on-demand” capability. Because the system does not have to
be up all the time, the link occurs only
when there is an actual transaction—a
call or data message. By minimizing use
of the link, each call is delivered relatively
“We decided there was no use in focusing on the radio base station on the
plane because there are basic communications companies out there with great
overall solutions,” said Fitzgerald. “Also,
there was no point in focusing on the satellite world because Inmarsat already has
great solutions for aircraft and ships. We
stayed focused solely on the area that is
the bridge between the aircraft and the
land and making sure it was a very efficient system.”
The issue for years has been separation of the network on the ground from
the network in the sky. This is important
because when using multiple networks,
it transverses or brings in another network above and creates “noise” in the
network on the ground. So, what the major communications companies such as
AeroMobile focused on was addressing
Any potential interference that might occur to
avionics equipment and onboard
communications systems from the use of
mobile devices had been the major concern
for regulators, but such concerns have now
been overcome. Pictured is Mike Fitzgerald,
Altobridge CEO.
the separation of the two networks completely. The network in the sky is now
completely separate from the network on
the ground. That was the key engineering feat.
AeroMobile provides the entire system
hardware, including the server. On that
server, they are running software that includes the Altobridge software to access
the satellite broadband capability.
“The key is that [the Altobridge
Gateway system] is translating software
between the GSM world and allowing us
to work reliably over the satellite links,”
said David Coiley, Vice President of
External Relations and Strategy,
AeroMobile. “Satellite links always narrow
up the bandwidth, resulting in a higher
cost than on the ground. Therefore, you
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June 2008
The onboard GSM system links crew and passenger cell phones to an Altobridge GSM mobility gateway, at the heart of Aeromobile’s
inflight system, which integrates with the onboard satcoms installation and communicates with terrestrial networks via the satellite link.
The new technology offers passengers a solution that enables them to continue using their own mobile phones, with call charges billed
to their own terrestrial operator.
want to try to limit your use of them. The
Altobridge mobile gateway capability allows us to do that in a more commercially
viable way, while operating over the existing Inmarsat satellite system that is installed in all airlines around the world.”
AeroMobile is currently in flights on
both Emeritus (voice and data) and
Qantas (data only) airlines. “We are just
the kernel in the middle that makes it
work,” said Fitzgerald. “The initial solution
is provided by AeroMobile”
Coiley and Fitzgerald say that the
European future for this technology lies in
getting more bandwidth. “Give us more
bandwidth and we can do wonderful
Aerospace engineering & manufacturing
things,” said Coiley. “We are all used to
having DSL and greater bandwidth on the
ground and we want it in the air, too.
Aviation will be the next frontier for that.”
While the EC has opened the door for
complete mobile phone use on planes, it
is still illegal to use them on flights over
the U.S.
The debate over this is pending with
the U.S. Federal Communications
Commission and the U.S. FAA. The
holdup is not the technology, which the
FAA has found to be sound; it is opposition from U.S. commuters who seem to
be highly resistant to being potentially
bombarded with a cacophony of cell
phone users all entrapped in a wide-body
together. Per FCC research, thousands
have petitioned the FCC not to lift the
ban on in-air mobile phone use. So, until
resolved, U.S.-based airlines are concentrating on Internet access, with many airlines now in the process of performing
Wi-FI technology testing.
However, with international airlines
holding out the golden mobile phone ring,
it may only be a matter of time before U.S.
airlines develop some type of guidelines
for in-flight personal phone use that passengers can live with—especially if it
proves profitable elsewhere.
Joyce Laird
June 2008
Design of experiments helps reduce time to remove aerospace coatings
Removal of coatings from military and commercial aircraft is
becoming increasingly more
difficult because coatings are
being formulated to exhibit
greater adhesion and impermeability, and environmental
regulations are more strict.
As a case in point, an aircraft manufacturer needed to
remove a chromated primer
prior to applying harness-attachment hardware during its
aircraft manufacturing process. Dual-action sanders
were used in the past for this
process, but recent U.S. EPA
regulations have limited the
release of airborne chromates, thus making this method prohibitive.
As a result, Aerochem Inc.,
a supplier of coating removers
based in Oklahoma City, OK,
was asked to develop a chemical paint remover that would
remove the coating in less than
2 h. Existing formulations on
the market took as long as 8 h
to remove the coating, which
would be unacceptable for
manufacturing. Aerochem used
the design of mixtures (DOM)
method to optimize the formulation of the coating remover.
A diverse range of coatings
are used in the aerospace industry. One common system
consists of a topcoat of polyurethane and an epoxy primer.
Coatings on military planes
are typically removed every
few years for refinishing, at
which time the aircraft structure is checked for corrosion
due to operating at high
stress levels in sometimes
corrosive environments. Paint
removers used to remove military coatings must be able to
remove all elements of a particular coating system. They
are designed to migrate
through each layer of the
coating system and remove it
either by causing the coating
to swell and delaminate or by
dissolving the coating through
a process known as cohesive
failure. Coating removers
must also avoid damaging the
metal and composite substrates. They are typically tested on a variety of metals used
in aerospace structural applications such as 2024 and
7075 bare aluminum, cadmium-plated steel, titanium,
1020 bare steel, and magnesium. Another important concern is avoiding hydrogen embrittlement of high-strength
steel used in aircraft landing
gear components.
Regulations have become
stricter on the use of the
chemicals that have proven
most effective at removing
coatings. In particular, the use
of methylene chloride, the
previous standard for coating
removal, has been virtually
eliminated by the EPA’s
Aerospace National Emissions
Standards for Hazardous Air
Pollutants regulation promulgated in 1996. As a result,
suppliers of coating removers
have had to identify new materials that are capable of removing today’s even-tougher
coatings while avoiding aircraft corrosion and hydrogen
embrittlement problems.
(From top to bottom)
First, a maskant is
applied to the
sample to prepare it
for the depaint
process. Then a
plane naked paint
remover is applied
to the masked-off
area. The third
image shows the
paint remover
working after 30
min, and finally the
area is depainted
and ready in less
than 45 min.
Aerospace engineering & manufacturing
June 2008
Removal water borne
This ternary contour plot, created using Stat-Ease’s Design-Expert
software, shows the optimal formulation of the chemical paint
remover: 5% of ingredient A, 1.93% of ingredient B, and 5.07% of
ingredient C.
Coating removers typically
consist of five or six different
components. Several components called activators are designed to remove the various
layers of the coatings system,
and the proportion of these
materials is typically varied to
improve performance on specific coating systems. Other
components may be designed
to stabilize the formulation,
extend shelf life, and prevent
corrosion and hydrogen embrittlement.
Normally, the determination
of the precise formula for
coating removers is largely a
matter of trial and error.
Chemists use experience and
instinct to mix up batches that
they think might be effective in
removing a particular type of
coating. These formulations
are tested by applying them to
coating panels and noting
whether they are able to remove the coating and how
long it takes. The coating removers are also tested
against metals to evaluate
whether they cause corrosion
or hydrogen embrittlement.
The formulation that removes
the coating system in the least
amount of time without causing other problems is used in
the application.
The weakness of this approach is that the tests are
expensive to run. Also, there is
typically only enough time to
test a relatively small number
out of the huge number of
possible formulations. So it
may be either expensive or
impossible to find a formulation that meets the requirements of the application. In
any case, optimization is im-
Aerospace engineering & manufacturing
possible using this method of
formulating a coating remover.
A more scientific approach is
required to provide a product
with the best results at an affordable price.
For these reasons,
Aerochem turned to DOE (design of experiments) and DOM
methods to improve coating
remover performance. DOE/
DOM reduces the number of
runs required to determine the
optimal value of each factor by
varying the values of all factors
in parallel. This approach determines not just the main effects of each factor, but also
the interactions between the
factors. DOE/DOM makes it
possible to identify the optimal
values for all factors in combination. It also requires far fewer experimental iterations than
the traditional one-factor-at-atime approach.
With the use of DOE/
DOM, Aerochem was able to
deliver a result that exceeded
the customer’s expectations.
Aerochem asked the manufacturer for samples of panels to
use in developing a new formulation. The material safety
data sheet (MSDS) for the
original formulation specified a
range of concentrations for
the three key active ingredients. The proportion of ingredient A was varied between 0
and 5%, ingredient B between
0 and 5%, and ingredient C
between 2 and 7%.
Design-Expert software
from Stat-Ease Inc. was used
to design an experiment to
optimize the formulation within
the limits defined by the
MSDS. The software was selected because it is designed
for use by subject matter experts who are not necessarily
experts in statistical methods.
The software walks users
through the process of designing and running the experiment and evaluating the
results. The D-optimal design
was selected because it provides the minimal number of
blends ideally formulated to fit
a given predictive model. A
quadratic model was also chosen because it includes the
nonlinear blending terms for
detection of component combinations that may be significantly antagonistic (detrimental) or synergistic (beneficial).
Design-Expert software
specified an experiment with
17 runs. All three components
were varied simultaneously so
that their interactions with
each other would be captured
by the experiment. The
Aerochem team created a
base batch consisting of the
88% of the formulation that
was constant for each batch,
and then separately mixed the
12% of the formulation that
accounted for the precise proportions of active ingredients
selected by Design-Expert for
each run. Technicians measured the time that each of the
17 formulations took to remove the coating. Then they
entered the results into
Design-Expert and the software performed statistical
analyses. The normal plot of
residuals showed a high level
of correlation between each of
the data points, indicating that
the results were internally
consistent. The Box-Cox
transformation of dependent
variables showed that the
June 2008
variances in the experimental
conditions were homogenous
and uncorrelated with the
means so a power transformation was not needed to
stabilize the variances.
Design-Expert software
then predicted the optimal formulation, within the constraints of the MSDS, consisting of 5% of ingredient A,
1.93% of ingredient B, and
5.07% of ingredient C. The
DOE software predicted that
this formulation would remove
the coating in 75 min. The
Aerochem team produced this
formulation and it actually removed the coating in only 45
min. These results were reproduced by the customer and
resulted in the Aerochem for-
mulation being the first product approved for use on this
Aerochem is creating a
package that includes the new
coating remover, the maskant
material with a hole that exposes the area where the
coating is to be removed, and
a cover that seals off the area
after the coating remover has
been applied. The aircraft
manufacturer is now working
towards implementation of this
new process.
Chris Hensley, President, Aerochem
Inc., wrote this article for Aerospace
Engineering & Manufacturing.
New SAE standards address engine components testing, hydraulics, anti-icing
Among Aerospace
Recommended Practices
(ARPs) recently adopted by
SAE International is ARP
5757, Guidelines for Engine
Component Tests. It was developed to provide a standard
for substantiation of aircraft
engine component airworthiness, according to ARP5757
sponsor Jim Schmohe of GEAviation.
“It defines the types of tests
and analyses that are required
and then goes on to define an
acceptable method of demonstrating compliance with each
of those requirements,” he
said. “ARP5757 documents
practices that are currently
being used within the industry
and have already been accepted by various certification
The recommended practice
provides a single set of guidelines that is acceptable to all
involved in the industry, including manufacturers and the
certification approval authorities.
“Component suppliers may
use this ARP to develop substantiation plans for new components,” Schmohe said.
“Aircraft engine manufacturers
may use this ARP in integrating the components substantiation process with that of the
overall engine certification
plans. And certification agencies may use this ARP as a
definition of what can be expected for component substantiation as part of the overall engine certification process.”
The document was produced with input from the
FAA, “and plans developed
following this ARP should be
an acceptable means of compliance with the provisions of
14 CFR 33.21,” said
Schmohe. “The plans should
also be acceptable for demonstrating compliance with the
equivalent requirements from
other certification agencies,
including Transport Canada
and EASA.
ARP5757 is a product of
SAE’s E-36 Committee Electronic Engine Controls.
ARP5891, Achieving
Cleanliness Standards for
Aircraft Hydraulic Systems
during Manufacture, is a product of the SAE A-6 Committee
- Aerospace Actuation,
Control, and Fluid Power
Systems. “This recommended
practice will establish more
uniform and technically efficient processes for achieving
and maintaining system cleanliness levels during the fabrication, manufacture, and assembly of aircraft hydraulic
systems,” said sponsor Bob
Olsen, formerly of Parker
Aerospace Hydraulic Systems
“Experience has shown that
A component supplied by
Woodward Governor Co. for
GE-Aviation’s recently certified
GEnx-1B engine is prepared for
vibration testing.
Aerospace engineering & manufacturing
Parker Aerospace
June 2008
ARP5891 is designed to establish more uniform and technically efficient processes for achieving and
maintaining cleanliness levels during the fabrication, manufacture, and assembly of aircraft hydraulic
in addition to the removal of
microscopic contamination,
having a formal established
plan such as outlined in
ARP5891 for flushing has
also been instrumental in the
early detection of infrequent
anomalies such as crossed
lines, misdrilled fittings, and
large [debris] in lines. Early
detection allowed correction
of the anomaly at a manufacturing level, where access and
repair was easier,” Olsen said.
The product of SAE’s AC9C Committee - Aircraft Icing
Technology, ARP5624,
Aircraft Inflight Icing
Terminology, provides recommended definitions for terms
commonly used in aircraft icing.
“Over time, the field of aircraft icing has evolved a set of
terms that are sometimes used
in different ways and have different meanings,” said
ARP5624 sponsor Gene
Addy of NASA’s John Glenn
Research Center. “This document is intended to promote
uniform usage of the terms
and their definitions. The existence of standard terms and
definitions will enable clearer
and more productive discussions of the issues in aircraft
icing and provides a valuable
reference for other publications, including other standards publications, on the
“Everyone involved in aircraft icing will be impacted by
this publication, including regulatory agencies, airframers,
ice-protection-system manufacturers, aircraft engine manufacturers, ice-detection-system manufacturers, and researchers in aircraft icing.”
Patrick Ponticel
A green sky is a Clean Sky
Cleaning up the skies by developing a
broad span of new green technologies is
a massive, challenging, and fascinating
opportunity for the aerospace industry.
But that is the aim of the Clean Sky
European joint technology initiative (JTI),
which gets under way this year and is set
to become one of the European industry’s
largest projects ever.
A steady buildup of momentum toward
the formation of Clean Sky—with a budget estimated at €1.6 billion, equally
shared between the European
Commission and the European aerospace industry—has seen it become firmly established, with a timescale from now
to 2014.
Clean Sky formally was launched in
Brussels in February. According to the
secretariat, the public/private partnership
will “speed up technological breakthrough
Aerospace engineering & manufacturing
Demonstration of
smart fixed-wing
aircraft is one
aspect of Clean
Sky’s aims.
developments and shorten the time to
market for new solutions tested on fullscale demonstrators.”
Eurocopter was among the first of the
founding member companies to voice its
enthusiasm for the pan-European research program, the objective of which is
to make air travel more sustainable by encouraging aeronautics manufacturers to
develop and produce green products.
June 2008
Saab CEO Åke Svensson said of Clean Sky,
“The project is of great strategic importance
for the environment.”
The company was one of several organizations that signed a memorandum of understanding in late 2006 with the EC for
the establishment of Clean Sky. Others
included AgustaWestland, Airbus,
Alenia Aerospace, Dassault Aviation,
Liebherr Aerospace, Rolls-Royce,
Safran, and Thales.
But that grouping has now expanded
to embrace the majority of the European
aircraft industry, from small and mediumsize enterprises to the major companies.
The European research community will
also play a major role in the initiative.
Saab is among them.
“The project is of great strategic importance for the environment, the future of
civil aviation, and of Saab’s position within
the European aircraft industry. We plan an
important role in Clean Sky,” said Åke
Svensson, Saab CEO and Chairman of
the Aerospace and Defense Industries
Association of Europe. “We are confident that we can contribute in making air
traffic more environmentally efficient.”
There are several sub-areas within the
program’s main framework. Saab, working
with Airbus, is to help develop a new
wing configuration that is intended to be
Saab is involved
with Airbus on
A380 production.
The Swedish
involvement in
Clean Sky includes
working with Airbus
to help develop a
new wing
the basis for the next-generation wing for
large civil aircraft.
But it is not just hardware that figures
in Clean Sky. Svensson explained that
Saab will also play a role in the development of new systems to make feasible the
safe planning of more efficient and effective flight paths, facilitating more fuel-efficient operations. Other subsystems to be
studied include de-icing, thermal management, and more electric-actuation
Clean Sky’s aim is to demonstrate and
validate the technology breakthroughs
essential to achieve the goals set by
ACARE (Advisory Council for
Aeronautics Research in Europe) for
2020. These include a 50% cut in CO2
emissions via a major reduction in fuel
consumption. Other aims are an 80% reduction in NOx emissions, 50% reduction
in external noise, and the setting in place
of a green product life cycle: design,
manufacturing, maintenance, and disposal/recycling.
Six integrated technology demonstrator elements are intrinsic to Clean Sky.
• Smart fixed-wing aircraft to deliver active wing technologies and new aircraft
• Green regional aircraft that achieve low
weight via smart structures, together with
low external noise and the integration of
technology developed by other technology demonstrators including engines,
energy management, and new systems
• Green rotorcraft having innovative rotor
blades and engine installation for noise
reduction, lower airframe drag, integration
of diesel engine technology, reduction of
fuel consumption, and advanced electrical systems to replace hydraulic systems
• Sustainable and green engines with the
build of five engine demonstrators to integrate technologies for low noise and
lightweight, low-pressure systems, high
efficiency, low NOx, and low-weight
cores incorporating configurations including open rotors and intercoolers
• Systems for green operations, embracing all-electric aircraft equipment, systems and architectures, thermal management, capabilities for green flight paths,
and improved ground operations
• Eco-design covering design plus the
production and the dismantling or recycling of aircraft.
Current membership of Clean Sky involves 86 organizations in 16 countries,
including 15 research centers and 17
Stuart Birch
Aerospace engineering & manufacturing
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