GKN Aerospace (Isle of Wight, U.K.) reports that it has delivered the first major structural assembly for the CH-53K heavy lift helicopter to Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. (Stamford, Conn., USA).
The CH-53K helicopter’s aft transition fuselage section measures approximately 20 ft long by 9 ft wide and 9 ft high (6.1m by 2.7m by 2.7m) and features an advanced hybrid composite, aluminium and titanium structure covered with external composite skins.
The work is being undertaken as part of a multi-year System Design & Development (SDD) contract in which GKN Aerospace was accorded full design authority and manufacturing responsibility for the CH-53K helicopter aft transition fuselage section, cargo ramp, and overhead door structural assemblies. GKN Aerospace was awarded the contract in 2007 and will deliver seven development ship sets to Sikorsky by 2012.
Structural design was carried out by the GKN Aerospace Engineering Development Center in Nashville, Tenn., USA, while manufacturing takes place at the company’s plant in St. Louis, Mo, USA. Full production of 156 ship sets is expected to commence in 2013 and continue through 2022.
To meet demanding CH-53K helicopter program weight, durability and affordability objectives, GKN Aerospace is employing automated fiber placement (AFP) machinery, automated trim and drill and digital inspection. In total, more than 1,000 metallic and composite detailed parts per aircraft are manufactured and assembled by the GKN Aerospace team.
Kevin Cummings, president and CEO, GKN Aerospace - Aerostructures North America, commented: "We are proud to be a part of the team on this critical platform and to deliver the first developmental version of what is a major element of the advanced structure of the helicopter. We are in no doubt that our work with Sikorsky on this program represents a significant step forward in the application of state of the art processes to improve rotary wing design and manufacture."