Spirit AeroSystems collaborates on Wing of Tomorrow program
Spirit AeroSystems (Wichita, Kan., U.S.) has announced that it is developing solutions for the fabrication and assembly of leading edges, wing boxes and lower wing covers, as part of Airbus’s Wing of Tomorrow program. Spirit’s efforts will be led by its site in Prestwick, Scotland.
"Spirit is leveraging its full suite of distinctive capabilities to tackle the challenge of improving product performance while lowering cost and compressing technology and product development cycles," says Sean Black, Ph.D., Spirit AeroSystems VP of research and technology. "To accomplish this feat, the projects rely heavily on modeling and simulation throughout all stages of the design-build process."
For one of the projects, Spirit says it is using composite resin-flow simulation tools to infuse a 7-meter lower wing cover, bypassing the usual trial-and-error approach for complex resin infusion processes. The demonstrator, Spirit says, is a major step towards delivering a full-scale, resin-infused lower cover to Airbus. Spirit is also continuing to leverage and enhance its patented Intelligent Resin Infusion System (IRIS) to develop lower-cost, higher-performing structures.
"These projects are not just about composite infusion technology," Black says. "Using digital design and manufacturing approaches, we're developing the product in parallel with the production system. In collaboration with the National Composites Centre (Bristol, U.K.) and Advanced Forming Research Centre (Strathclyde, U.K.), we're also developing highly automated fabrication and inspection technologies.”
The projects supporting Wing of Tomorrow are jointly funded by Spirit and the U.K. Government through the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) Programme, in close collaboration with Airbus, the National Composites Centre, the Advanced Forming Research Centre and the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre. The ATI Programme is managed by the Aerospace Technology Institute with the U.K.'s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and Innovate U.K.
In addition, Spirit announced earlier this year that it has broken ground on a 70,000 square-foot Aerospace Innovation Centre at its Prestwick facility. The site's focus on infusion processes for composite materials, part handling, assembly automation, rapid prototyping and virtual/augmented reality will all directly support the company's wing development and industrialization efforts, Spirit says.
This announcement was made at the 2019 Paris Air Show, where the company also debuted its next-generation composite fuselage panel.
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