Exelis expands, receives Boeing processor qualification designation

U.S.-based Exelis has licensed composite struts, tubes and rods manufacturing technology from Bodair S.A., and has been designated an approved advanced composite structures supplier to Boeing.

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Exelis (Salt Lake City, Utah, USA) reports it has licensed patented manufacturing technology from Bodair S.A. (Boudeye, Belgium) to produce composite struts, tubes and rods (branded STaR) for commercial and military aircraft applications. The new Exelis STaR product line expands the company’s aerostructures solutions and supports the aerospace industry’s demand for high-performance, light-weight structural hardware.

Exelis will use the new technology to produce a variety of composite hardware components under the STaR product line, including floor beam and wing box struts, control rods and torque tubes. The technology allows for rapid development and reconfiguration of product design and offers the capability to produce monolithic carbon fiber struts or integrate metallic fittings during the automated manufacturing process. As a result, the STaR products are lower weight while achieving the same strength requirements compared with other composite production methods. In addition, Exelis says the composite hardware provides much higher strength-to-weight ratio vs. traditional metallic parts.

“The newly acquired technology provides Exelis with a competitive advantage as the aerospace industry continues to expand the use of composites looking for new opportunities to reduce the weight of aircraft,” says Mike Blair, vice president and general manager of Exelis Aerostructures. “The STaR product line offers customers significant weight savings without compromising strength and durability. The combination of the unique manufacturing process and automation technology positions us to meet the market demands with the ability to produce upward of 40,000 STaR parts per year.”

Aerostructures has been identified as one of four strategic growth platforms for the company. Exelis will produce the STaR products at its composite design and manufacturing center in Salt Lake City.

BODAIR S.A. is an emerging technology company active in the design and development of carbon fiber applications for the aerospace industry. The company’s investment in research and development has advanced the use of composite materials in aircraft applications and produced innovative manufacturing processes. 

Exelis also reported on July 15 that it has received processor qualification designation from The Boeing Co. (Chicago, Ill., USA) for its composite design and manufacturing center in Salt Lake City. The qualification, achieved after a comprehensive technical review against six Boeing specifications (BAC5578 and BAC5317-1 through -5) designates Exelis as an approved advanced composite structures supplier to the Boeing supply chain.

To achieve the qualification, Exelis demonstrated its process controls and manufacturing capability for advanced composite parts at varied temperatures during autoclave cures. The effort also included qualifying several pieces of equipment critical in the manufacturing process, including material pattern cutters, optical laser templates and autoclaves. Exelis completed the qualification process in less than one year.

“Achieving this rigorous Boeing qualification underlines our commitment to providing the highest quality composite structures at the greatest value to our customers,” said Mike Blair, vice president and general manager of Exelis Aerostructures. “This designation is an important milestone as we continue to expand our commercial aerostructures business.”

Exelis has identified aerostructures as one of four strategic growth platforms for the company. With this designation, Exelis will be listed on Boeing’s D6-53993 document as an approved processor for manufacturing composite structures. 

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