14 April 2010
An undisputed “star” of this week’s JEC Composites show is the demonstrator fuselage section for Diamond Aircraft Industries’ D-JET personal jet aircraft, which was produced using EADS’ patented Vacuum Assisted Process (VAP®) technology, and is being displayed by the EADS Technology Licensing initiative.
From the opening of this three-day composites industry gathering in Paris – the largest exhibition of its type in Europe – the D-JET fuselage has attracted a steady flow of visitors, who have literally inspected the four-metre-long structure from end to end.
Manfred Zipper, the head of development and production at Diamond Aircraft Industries, said his team has built two D-JET forward fuselage demonstrator sections using VAP®. A nine-metre-long fuselage is now being made – applying the full advantages of this membrane-assisted, low-pressure infusion process to create it as a single piece, complete with stringers.
In addition, Diamond Aircraft Industries has won a contract to build a 10-metre-long test wing section for the Russian MS-21 regional jetliner with VAP. This full-scale segment begins at the centre wingbox and runs to outer wingbox, and is to undergo ground-based testing that includes simulated flight loads.
The company has extensive experience in composites, producing a family of general aviation and small personal jet aircraft with the extensive use of composite materials. Diamond Aircraft Industries has a major composites production centre at its Austrian headquarters facility, and another is located at the company’s production plant in Canada.
Based on his production experience with VAP, Zipper said he is convinced the EADS-patented process “is the way of future,” and will enable fully-composite aircraft to be efficiently built in weight categories of over five metric tons.
Zipper explained that processes such as VAP – which enable composite structures to be manufactured without traditional large, expensive autoclaves – mark a major step forward in manufacturing technology.
In addition, the semi-permeable membrane systems used in the VAP production enables the reliable removable of small molecules of trapped air and gas – resulting in products with extraordinarily low porosity. This low porosity is important for the long-term integrity of an aircraft, and also provides an extremely high surface quality.
“One of my goals is to bring about a new way of building aircraft at my own company, and VAP is a key to this change,” Zipper added. “And from what I have heard from other aircraft manufacturers, they are very excited as well about what VAP can bring to composite aircraft production.”
• Learn more about the EADS Technology Licensing initiatives’ achievements and activities with the archived news stories.