Carbon Fiber Composites Inc. awarded $10,000 for new aircraft design
Safari 500 helicopter. Source | Carbon Fiber Composites
Carbon Fiber Composites Inc. (Ona, W.Va., U.S.), a manufacturer of composite airframe parts, has been awarded $10,000 by the Robert C. Byrd Institute (RCBI; Huntington, W.Va., U.S.), for the development of a new aircraft concept.
Since 2003, Carbon Fiber has been producing composite airframe parts and fabricating and manufacturing aerospace components (see “Infusion of aerostructures: Doubling down on the details”). According to Brian Alley, president of Carbon Fiber Composites, this includes production of the composite parts for the Safari 500 kit helicopter, as well as the tooling and composite parts for the Safari 500 prototype.
“With this award, RCBI will be providing not only technical and engineering assistance for the design process, but also manufacturing assistance through our facilities in Huntington and Charleston,” says Jim Smith, director of RCBIAero. “We are going to assist the manufacturer with airflow studies, computer-aided design and fabrication assistance. Our goal is to help Carbon Fiber Composites take its aircraft concept from design to testing for production as quickly and safely as possible.”
Funding for similar general aviation projects is available through RCBI’s Appalachian Hatchery, part of POWER (Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization), a multi-agency initiative that delivers federal resources to help communities affected by job losses in coal mining and related industries. Funding is provided by the Appalachian Regional Commission, U.S. Economic Development Administration and the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation. Aerospace technical services and training are provided by RCBIAero, RCBI's proof of concept and training center, which is an EDA-funded Regional Innovation Strategies initiative.
RCBI’s Early Stage Funding assistance is designed to enhance business development and innovation among West Virginia companies. Carbon Fiber Composites is the first general aviation company in the state to receive this award.
Compared to legacy materials like steel, aluminum, iron and titanium, composites are still coming of age, and only just now are being better understood by design and manufacturing engineers. However, composites’ physical properties — combined with unbeatable light weight — make them undeniably attractive.
Oven-cured, vacuum-bagged prepregs show promise in production primary structures.
As the wind energy market continues to grow, competition heats up between glass and carbon fiber composites for turbine blades.