EADS R&D targets integrated composites in complex fuselage barrel

The EADS NEXICOS effort, which aims to fine-tune next-generation composites manufacturing processes, has developed a complex fuselage barrel section that features integrated stringers, local reinforcements and window frames.

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European aerospace giant EADS reports that its Innovation Works business unit is working with Airbus, Eurocopter and Premium Aerotech to advance composite aircraft production by fabricating a complex fuselage barrel section — complete with its integrated stringers, local reinforcements and window frames — in a single production step. Also known as a "one-shot" process, it uses the EADS-patented Vacuum Assisted Process (VAP).

The project, called NEXICOS (Next Generation of Integrated Composite Aerospace Structure), was created to demonstrate the merits of such an integrated approach for use with future aircraft and helicopters in applying the VAP technology, which consists of injecting resin into dry fiber preforms. EADS says the robustness of the technology results in fuselage components that would be less expensive to manufacture, easier to produce, with less energy required to build and lighter in weight due to the integrated design that requires fewer fasteners and an optimized fiber architecture.

EADS says NEXICOS resulted in the production of a demonstration fuselage section 3m long and 2.8m tall, which validated the expected benefits from this production approach.