ACG to build composite cockpit simulators for Thales

It's made using an epoxy syntactic tooling block, glass fiber, and an epoxy resin matrix.

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Advanced Composite Group (ACG, Heanor, U.K.), part of the Composites Division of Umeco plc, has announced that it has signed a repeat contract to manufacture cockpit simulator shells for Thales, an international electronics and systems group, addressing defense, aerospace and security markets worldwide.

ACG has been contracted to supply European Fighter Aircraft (EFA, Typhoon) cockpit simulator shells ready to accept an array of instrumentation and ancillary equipment for Thales Full Mission Simulators and Crew Trainers (FMS and CT). With positional accuracy of vital importance in replicating the actual flight, leading the trainee pilot to believe that he is actually flying a real fighter plane, the shells are being manufactured at Advanced Composites Engineering (ACE), where the group’s expertise, 5-axis CNC machining center and fully equipped prepreg lay-up facility are employed in construction of the cockpit.

The base structure of a simulator is in the form of a tubular steel platform onto which a fabricated aluminium display suite framework is rigidly mounted. From this point, all features, including the inner and outer cockpit shells, and almost 600 individual composite components, are either mounted to or cocured with the inner shell.

ACG’s TB720, a low-density, low-coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE) epoxy syntactic tooling block, is being used to manufacture accurate and stable LTM12 (Low Temperature Molding) tooling, which is then used to mold the inner and outer shells, and a number of associated components -- some of which are honeycomb-cored to reduce weight and improve rigidity and strength. The inner and outer shells, plus a range of components and stowage boxes, have been made using a combination of ACG’s MTM56 advanced composite resin matrix and
GF0100 and GF0700 glass fiber off LTM12 tooling.

MTM56, which has was developed for component manufacture, is based on a 120°C (248°F) curing, toughened epoxy matrix that can be used at temperatures up to 100°C (212°F). Although MTM56 can also be vacuum bag and press-mold cured, the shells and a number of smaller components for the cockpit simulator have been autoclave cured, thus providing a high-quality surface finish and with good consolidation.