GKN Aerospace (Isle of Wight, U.K.) reported on Oct. 31 that it has won a contract from Cobham Mission Equipment worth more than £6 million to design, develop and manufacture a lightweight composite/metal air-to-air refuelling pylon for the wing dispense equipment (WDE) on the Airbus A400M military airlifter.
First deliveries of development units for vibration testing will take in February 2012, with production deliveries commencing in early 2013 and continuing through to 2020. The GKN Aerospace pylon design will be manufactured using a combination of composite and metallic components to achieve specified weight and performance targets that are essential to ensure safe and efficient completion of air-to-air refuelling.
Jeff Armitage, vice president and managing director Nacelles at GKN Aerospace, comments: "This contract represents the successful development of our existing wing structures and fuel delivery systems businesses. It takes us into an important new customer relationship with Cobham — and into a market where our expertise in complex composite, metallic and hybrid wing structures can bring real operational advantage."
GKN Aerospace has already designed, and now supplies, the A400M wing spar – the world's first all-composite wing spar for a large aircraft. This massive structure has been manufactured using a number of processes, including advanced automated tape laying (ATL) techniques. The aircraft's engine inlet and wing trailing edge detail are also supplied by the company.
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The partnership will address specific focus areas such as technology research and development while expanding certain initiatives and programs for those in the composites manufacturing community.