Aerospace and Defence

4 min read

UK Aerospace is a knowledge intesnive industry accounting for 9.5 per cent of UK manufacturing's entire R&D expenditure. Dean Palmer takes a look at some important developments within the sector

News item Abaqus to develop and market FEA for Boeing Boeing's Intellectual Property Business has selected finite element analysis software supplier Abaqus to develop and market Boeing technology for the prediction of fracture and failure in laminated composite materials. The technology, a novel and refined technique known as 'Virtual Crack Closure Technique' or VCCT has been used by Boeing and plays an important part in the design of aerospace structures involving composites. Initial development of VCCT began with the Composite Affordability Initiative, of which Boeing is a member. Boeing has now filed a patent application for VCCT and Abaqus will market the technology. "This technology will provide significant new capabilities for virtual testing of composite structures and working with Abaqus makes the technology commercially available to Boeing and its supplier community," commented Gene Partlow, VP Boeing Intellectual Property Business. Abaqus says VCCT will now accelerate the availability of new techniques to design composite aerospace structures for superior performance, durability and damage. DP New diamond-like carbon coatings Tecvac of Cambridge has developed a new, wear-resistant diamond-like coating, ideally suited to aerospace, biomedical and automotive power train applications, which has a hardness of up to 4,500 HV (45 GPA), four times as hard as best chrome plate. The coating, Diamolith, is inert, highly wear resistant and highly lubricious, with a coefficient of friction of just 0.05. The coating can be applied to all types of metal surfaces at low process temperatures, typically 200°C to 300°C. This includes tool steels, stainless steels, nickel chrome steels, aluminium, titanium and molybdenum, and their alloys, carbides and beryllium copper. Following an exclusive UK marketing agreement with the French originator of Diamolith, the Innovative Coatings Company (ICC), Tecvac will collaborate with ICC on developing new applications. Peter Carpenter director at Tecvac told Eureka: "We've already developed a number of multi-layer, ultra hard combinations from our range of titanium nitride, chromium nitride and other advanced coatings, which offer new ways of improving performance for titanium, steel, nickel chrome and cobalt chrome in aerospace, gas turbines, medical and high performance automotive applications. DLC offers the prospect of extending this envelope yet again." Intelligent shock isolation The acceleration of technology development and the drive to keep costs down has produced significant challenges for electronics manufacturers and systems integrators in the defence industry. The combination of outsourcing for electronic components and constant technology upgrades makes it almost impossible for end users to control their supply or take advantage of the latest technologies. A component may be obsolete for six months after a system has been deployed is also a potential problem. In the case of a typical electronic console on board a naval vessel, each new component must be shock qualified before it is used, which makes the efficient insertion of COTS (commercial off-the-shelf) electronics almost impossible. Enivate, in conjunction with NSWC and NRL, has developed an intelligent shock mitigation isolation system (ISMIS) for the Naval industry, a semi-active isolation system that ensures the survivability of mission critical systems employing COTS components. The devices are used, but not limited to isolating electronics equipment from shipboard shock and all support the mass of the isolated equipment to a specific 'G' level, providing shock isolation in all three axes, typically in the 70% range for shipboard mounted electronics equipment. Andrew Sawyer, sales manager at Enivate UK, told Eureka: "The devices are not just limited to COTS electronics applications. They are equally suitable for seating applications in military vehicles, sighting systems or GPS systems." Enivate has also developed and patented SIDAS, its shock isolator double acting spring, which utilises a pre-compressed mechanical spring for static pre-load and uses hydraulics to dampen forces. And DAMSI, the firm's double acting mechanical shock isolator, uses a pre-compressed spring element for static pre-load and uses friction to dampen forces. One double acting unit replaces two single acting hydraulic units. DP EADS wins eye in the sky contract A consortium led by European aerospace company EADS has won a contract to supply a multi-billion dollar surveillance system to NATO. The alliance said it aimed to sign a contract for the 'eye in the sky' programme - which is expected to enter service in 2010 - by Spring next year. Under the deal, the group will supply NATO with a system that uses aircraft, unmanned drones and ground systems. The contract is believed to be worth around four billion euros (£2.7bn). EADS Airbus A321 planes will be among those provided as part of the surveillance system. DP Shock test approval for military motors Electric motors under shock tests at QinetiQ, the new science and technology division formed from part of DERA, managed to withstand 30'g' of force. The motors, supplied by ABB, flex and bend but at no time did they break up or become a projectile, therefore passing the stringent shock tests required for use on Royal Navy ships. A sequence of the video can be viewed at The NES 814 test, which is the preferred specification for the UK MoD and stipulates the optimum method of testing for each platform, was used to establish whether ABB's aluminium 56 to 250 frame size motors would qualify for use on Royal Navy vessels. Aluminium motors were preferred because of their reduced weight and high elasticity, which allows the enclosure to flex without the risk of totally fragmenting. Although the MoD is pushing hard to purchase standard COTS components, testing products to see whether they are fit for purpose is critical. For motors, the minimum requirement is to meet 15g, which is the level for motors installed on the weather deck and above. But for motors installed below the ship's waterline, much higher shock levels occur. In the tests, ABB's motors were mounted on 20mm thick plate, to represent a ship's deck, to which some 30g force was applied. The result was that the motors, when fitted with shock mounts, can be used below the waterline and within 1m of the hull. Steve Ruddell, general manager motors and drives at ABB commented: "We do not cut corners on motor quality and these tests prove that our motors are very robust. If our standard motors can do this in fighting vessels, just think of the reliability this design will provide in traditional pump and fan applications." DP Facts about UK Aerospace * UK Aerospace is the world's second largest national aerospace industry and the largest in Europe * The UK sector employs 147,000 directly and a further 350,000 indirectly * 33% of all UK aerospace employees hold a degree or equivalent qualification * The UK aerospace industry supply chain comprises more than 2,000 companies distributed throughout the UK * Aerospace exports account for 7% of the UK's total exports * UK Aerospace is a knowledge-intensive industry, accounting for 9.5% of UK manufacturing's entire R&D spend * Around 11% of the total workforce is involved in R&D * In total, the industry spends 8.5% of its turnover on R&D, of which 50% is funded by companies * Germany (£120m per year) and France (£50m per year) spend more on civil aerospace research and technology acquisition than the UK (£20m per year) Source: The Society of British Aerospace Companies