Airbus (Toulouse, France) and Fokker Technologies (Papendrecht, The Netherlands), a division of GKN Aerospace, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for a strategic partnership in research development and automation of Fibre Metal Laminate (FML) production.
FML is the second generation of a lightweight material, consisting of alternate layers of bonded aluminum and glass fiber. The first generation (also known as Glare) has been successfully applied on the upper fuselage and the vertical tail plane of the Airbus A380 since 2005. Smart automated production technology and the next generation of fibers are the main characteristics of the intended development. Smart automated and robotized production technology will enable high-volume production rates and increase affordability for OEMs.
Hans Büthker, CEO Fokker Technologies, says, “ I am proud that we can take this next research step in production automation of FML together with Airbus. This advanced lightweight material has been developed by Fokker more than 20 years ago together with Technical University of Delft and NLR (National Dutch Aerospace Laboratory) within the renowned Dutch aerospace ecosystem and we have industrialized it at that time together with Airbus for the application on the A380 fuselage panels. Now we can take the next research step in automation of the production again with the same great partner, this is an important development for future applications of FML”
FMLs are advanced materials offering weight savings of 15% compared with traditional aircraft materials, together with benefits that include more efficient processing in production, lower costs of structural components and a high level of fire safety. FML has high strength, is light weight and contributes to the drive towards sustainable aviation.