Airbus (Blagnac, France), Fokker Technologies (Papendrecht, The Netherlands) and TenCate Advanced Composites (Nijverdal, The Netherlands) will sign on January 20 the contract for the next stage of the Thermoplastic Affordable Primary Aircraft Structure innovation program (TAPAS), in the presence of the French President François Hollande, the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Minister of Economic Affairs Henk Kamp. This program has existed since 2010, and is a highly successful tool for project-based innovation.
The TAPAS consortium consists of companies and knowledge institutes in the Dutch aerospace industry working together with Airbus on the development of thermoplastic composite applications in aircraft fuselages, wings and tail sections. The fruitful partnership between Fokker Aerostructures and TenCate Advanced Composites with Airbus and the other partners started in 2010 and, following the new extension, will run until the end of 2017. The innovation partners within TAPAS from Dutch SME's are Airborne Composites, CODET, DTC, KE-Works, KVE and Technobis Fiber Technologies. The Netherlands National Aerospace Laboratory (NLR), Delft University of Technology and the University of Twente are the Dutch knowledge partners in this innovation program. The budget for TAPAS 2 is € 24.3 million, and the Netherlands Ministry of Economic Affairs is supporting the ongoing partnership with a loan of € 9.5 million.
Thermoplastic composites are advanced materials offering weight savings of 15 percent 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. These composites have high strength, light weight and contribute to the drive towards sustainable aviation, because the use of these materials allows constant reductions in aircraft weight to be achieved. As a result, fuel consumption is reduced, the range of the aircraft is increased and higher payloads are possible. The target is to further increase the proportion of thermoplastic composites in current aircraft as well as in the new generation of aircraft. A demonstration tail section made entirely of thermoplastic composite material is being developed under the TAPAS 2 agreement. A thermoplastic fuselage panel has been produced and presented as a demonstrator as part of TAPAS 1.
The Dutch aerospace industry holds a leading position worldwide in lightweight material applications. This position is due partly to the excellent national knowledge infrastructure in the aerospace industry, materials and processes. Partnership with customers, suppliers, universities and knowledge institutes in innovation platforms, supported by active government policy, shows how this structured approach is taking new technology developments to the next level.