In The Netherlands, the National Aerospace Laboratory (NLR, Amsterdam) and Airborne Composites BV (The Hague) reported on Nov. 8 that they have signed a memorandum of understanding to create a strategic partnership. The goal is to jointly develop new and differentiated resin transfer molding (RTM) technologies that will open up business opportunities in the field of complex and highly loaded aerospace structures. Examples are load-introduction structures, fittings, hinges, ribs, beams, frames and engine components, which are, in most cases, still made of metal. Airborne is investing in a dedicated RTM facility at its location in Spain. The company says the RTM unit will be up and running in the first quarter of 2012.
Kaman Corp. (Bloomfield, Conn.) on Nov. 2 announced that its subsidiary, Kaman Aerospace Group Inc., has entered into an agreement to acquire Vermont Composites Inc. (Bennington, Vt.), a designer and manufacturer of composite aerostructures and advanced composite medical equipment. Vermont Composites, with approximately 230 employees, expected to generate sales of $32 million for 2011 and has high-profile positions on a number of major aerospace platforms, including the V-22 Osprey, P-8 Poseidon, C-130 Hercules, MH-60 Black Hawk and various UAVs. The senior management team of Vermont Composites, including president and CEO Patrick Wheeler, has agreed to continue employment with Kaman. Vermont Composites will become part of the Kaman Composites Division, led by president James C. Larwood.
Royal Engineered Composites (Minden, Neb.) held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to commission its expanded facility on Dec. 6. Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman gave the keynote address at the event. The additional 30,000 ft2 (2,787m2) gives the company greater capacity for larger contracts and parts. The new facility includes a cleanroom and a large manufacturing space, which houses a flatbed cutter and composites machining center.
GKN Aerospace (Isle of Wight, U.K.) reported on Nov. 11 that it won a production contract with Honda Aircraft Co. (Greensboro, N.C.). GKN will supply the composite fuselage for the HondaJet advanced light business jet. Manufacturing of the fuselage has commenced and is being conducted at the GKN Aerospace production facility in Tallassee, Ala. The HondaJet fuselage, designed by the Honda Aircraft Co., is constructed of composites cocured integrally in an autoclave. This process reduces manufacturing complexity, and the composite produces a lighter structure that offers greater fuel efficiency and significantly increased interior cabin space. GKN Aerospace gained the HondaJet fuselage development contract in 2009 and commenced initial development and certification of component fabrication, fuselage assembly and production work in Tallassee. The HondaJet, currently in development and certification testing, will be assembled at Honda Aircraft’s world headquarters in Greensboro.
Editor PickGardner Business Index at 54.1 in January
The US composites industry looks as strong as it has since early 2015, with expectations the highest in years.