14 April 2011
EADS offers technology licensing opportunities that literally apply to business aviation aircraft from nose-to-tail, providing manufacturers with new production capabilities in metallic and composite materials, improvements in acoustic treatment, and enhancements for flight instrumentation.
This range of technologies is becoming increasingly attractive as business aviation prepares for a rebound – which is expected to result in the development of both new and derivative aircraft, according to Wulf Hoeflich, who heads the EADS Technology Licensing initiative.
The first industrial application of Airbus’ zero-splice inlet is on the A380, using a single-piece acoustic liner that begins behind the engine nacelle inlet lip and continues to just forward of the fan.
“We clearly see a higher level of activity among today’s producers of business jets – as well as with certain general aviation aircraft manufacturers who are considering entering this sector,” he added. “The EADS Technology Licensing initiative currently has discussions underway on multiple technology licensing agreements with several of these manufacturers, and I expect further interest as the recovery continues for the business aviation sector.”
One example cited by Hoeflich is an agreement signed with Diamond Aircraft for carbon composite infusion technology related to the EADS-patented Vacuum Assisted Process (VAP®).
Another technology that currently is generating interest is the zero splice inlet, developed by Airbus and successfully applied on the A380. With this technology, the acoustically-treated liner used inside a nacelle’s air inlet is produced in a single 360-deg. piece – eliminating the splices that join individual segments of traditional multi-piece liners, which have a negative effect on the acoustic efficiency.
“The zero splice inlet is an important contributor to the A380’s remarkably low noise levels, and Airbus has demonstrated that this concept can be scaled down to engine sizes appropriate for business jets,” Hoeflich explained.
Also drawing the attention of business aircraft manufacturers are EADS Innovation Works’ technologies in the areas of metallic and composite materials, along with related production techniques – offering new ways to build aircraft that are lighter and stronger, as well as more efficient to produce and maintain.
This includes aluminium-magnesium-scandium (AlMgSc) alloys that can be used in sheet material applications (associated with integrated creep forming and laser beam welding production techniques), as well as the company’s second-generation AlMgSc Scalmalloy® alloy, which is tailored for extrusion-produced profiled parts.
In addition, innovative friction-stir welding techniques and tools developed by EADS have generated queries from business aircraft manufacturers for potential licensing agreements. These techniques provide high-quality welding on thick sections for integral structures, and EADS has created a welding tool – called DeltaN – which addresses the issue of inhomogeneous heat distribution for such production applications. For one aircraft manufacturer, the laboratories of EADS Innovation Works used friction-stir welding and the DeltaN tool to produce a skin-integrated window frame as a test specimen for a future business jet concept.
For cockpit instrumentation that could find applications on new business aircraft, the Eurocopter-developed First Limit Indicator (FLI) offers flight safety improvements through the intelligent sensing of engine parameters. Eurocopter validated the FLI for use on helicopters, but the technology is expected to find its place with fixed-wing aircraft as well – with business aviation representing a strong target market.
• Learn more about the EADS Technology Licensing initiatives’ achievements and activities with the archived news stories.