FACC reveals composite wing box for MS-21 aircraft

Austria-based FACC reports use of an innovative resin infusion process to make the carbon fiber composite wing box for the Russian MS-21 commercial airliner.

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Aerospace structures manufacturer FACC (Ried im Innkreis, Austria) reported on Aug. 18 revealed the wing box for the new Russian MS-21 commercial airliner. The carbon fiber composite prototype is manufactured based on an integral construction method and uses newly developed, cost-optimised resin and textile systems.

During an official ceremony at the MAKS 2011 Moscow Airshow, Russia’s Prime Minster Vladimir Putin unveiled the prototype of the 10m/33 ft long and 3m/9.8m wide wing box that FACC developed and manufactured in cooperation with Aerocomposit, the development competence centre of the Moscow-based United Aircraft Corp. The wing box will be subjected to extensive static and fatigue tests designed to verify the industrial feasibility of the composite wing box in infusion technology.

“The MS-21 wing box project is hugely important to FACC and represents a major challenge for our company because of the dimensions of the components,” states Walter Stephan, chairman of FACC AG. “With our involvement in this Russian medium-haul aircraft, we are creating access to a new and very promising market as well as climbing up the league table of suppliers of primary structures on aircraft.”

In December 2009 FACC was chosen by Aerocomposit as a partner in the development and manufacture of the composite wing box. Under the agreement, FACC developed in cooperation with Aerocomposit a prototype of the new wing box with the aim of creating and testing a construction complete with a fully integrated fuel tank. Based on the Aerocomposit design, FACC carried out the developing, testing and selection of the materials and processes, as well as the final design. FACC is also responsible for the design and manufacture of the production materials and tools as well as the production and testing of the wing box prototype. The dimensions and number of individual parts in the project present a challenge; a wing box prototype consists of six individual composite components as well as approximately 300 purchased parts and 9,000 fasteners.

“Thanks to excellent collaboration with customer and suppliers. FACC has succeeded in creating a wing concept that gives savings in terms of weight, time and cost in development and production processes as well as increasing the functionality of components. Our leading technologies make the MS-21 an efficient and economical aircraft. This enables us to provide effective support to our customers in meeting the increasing requirements of a demanding market,” says Walter Stephan.

The goal of the development project is to use collected data to prove the feasibility of producing the wing boxes using infusion technology and to develop a foundation for making decisions concerning the final design of the MS-21 wing. The new resin infusion technology makes it possible to realize large components such as wings and tail units with extremely high stability and low weight.