GKN composites featured in first flight of second X-47B

GKN Aerospace reports that it fabricated composite, aluminum and titanium structures in the wing and fuselage for the second X-47B unmanned aircraft system, developed by Northrop Grumman.

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GKN Aerospace (Isle of Wight, U.K.) reported on Dec. 7 that it supplied many of the composite parts and structures for the second X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System Carrier Demonstration (UCAS-D) air vehicle, which completed its first flight on Nov. 22 (see link at right for full story). 

The U.S. Navy and Northrop Grumman completed first flight of the second UCAS-D air vehicle. As part of a multi-year contract, GKN Aerospace designed and manufactured a large portion of the fuselage and wing structure for this pioneering aircraft.

The tailless aircraft’s complex center fuselage, wings, bay covers and actuated doors, all produced by GKN Aerospace, contain a lightweight aluminium, titanium or composite substructure that is covered by several hundred square feet of carbon fiber composite skins. Each wing supports a spoiler flight control surface and hosts fully integrated electrical and hydraulic routings. The wing design also incorporates a fold capability that enables the air vehicle to achieve a smaller footprint for aircraft carrier stowage.

The company’s teams at its development centre in Nashville, Tenn., USA, and manufacturing operation in St. Louis, Mo., USA, used advanced design tools and analysis techniques, with state-of-the-art production equipment, to develop and produce more than 650 high-performance metallic and composite structures and assemblies for each aircraft.

Kevin Cummings, president and CEO, Aerostructures - North America, GKN Aerospace comments: “GKN Aerospace is extremely proud to have designed and built a large portion of the X-47B’s complex, high-performance metallic and composite airframe. We look forward to the continued success of this transformational Navy program over the coming years.”

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