CW Blog

A lot of research effort continues on electric propulsion for aircraft, and challenges remain. As I blogged in 2016, many programs are aimed at developing viable battery-electric or solar propulsion for smaller aircraft. One US-based program is NASA’s Scalable Convergent Electric Propulsion Technology and Operations Research (SCEPTOR) subproject, which is developing the manned X-57 Maxwell experimental aircraft featuring a distributed electric propulsion system (more on that below).  SCEPTOR is part of NASA’s Convergent Aeronautics Solution (CAS) initiative, which falls under the agency’s Transformative Aeronautics Concepts Program. NASA’s goal of meeting and overcoming the challenges of today’s aviation starts with potentially revolutionary ideas, and CAS was instrumental in supporting the idea of zero-carbon-emitting distributed electric propulsion, says the agency.

As defined in a 2010 technical paper authored by Hyun Dae Kim of NASA Glenn Research Center (Cleveland, OH, US), a distributed electric propulsion system means integrating a propulsion system within an airframe such that the aircraft gets the full synergistic benefits of coupling of the airframe aerodynamics and the propulsion thrust stream by distributing thrust using many propulsors on the airframe. OK, in other words, the X-57 will have many small battery-powered electric motors, 14 in all, distributed along the length of the wing (12 high-lift motors along the leading edge of the wing and two larger wingtip cruise motors). NASA says the X-57 will undergo as many as three configurations, with the final configuration to feature 14 electric motors and propellers. The 12 smaller electric motors will be used to generate lift during takeoff and landing only, while the two wingtip motors will be used during cruise. The goal of the X-57 program is to demonstrate a 500% increase in high-speed cruise efficiency, zero in-flight carbon emissions, and flight that is much quieter for the community on the ground.

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Keeping up with technology requires a dedication to education. That means taking a proactive approach to learning in all its various forms; online resources, training opportunities, and especially industry events like conferences and trade shows.

Leading up to any industry event, attendees and exhibitors alike have their time and attention dedicated to keeping up with business, leavening little time for anything else.

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Building an aircraft without molds or fasteners?


Elemental rings are fitted to create a mandrel for the fuselage skin in this MTorres demonstrator fuselage.

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Sponsored Content 11. June 2018

Protecting Composite Surfaces Against the Elements

Composite surfaces are subject to weathering, including rain erosion, as well as other environmental damage. To protect the underlying plies, the film must be strong enough to mitigate potential damage from mechanical abrasion, UV exposure, and must provide a barrier for subsequent processes like sanding or paint removal.

Surfacing films can also help address the effect of thermal cycling. Thermal cycling can create microcracking in the aircraft surface coating. These tiny cracks can allow moisture ingression, which can ultimately lead to corrosion or delamination. Microcracking can be minimized by closely matching coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE) of prepregs, surfacing film and paint coating systems.

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SAMPE 2018 new products target next-generation aircraft


The broader aerospace world might be patiently waiting for Boeing to officially announce plans to develop its New Middle-Market Airplane (NMA, or 797), tabbed as a replacement for the 757, but suppliers are not sitting on their hands. SAMPE 2018, May 21-24 (Long Beach, CA, US), proved that the aerospace composites supply chain has been busy developing new products for next-generation aircraft. Like the 797. 

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