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3/8/2013 | 1 MINUTE READ

Thermoplastic composite tailplane

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Ticona Engineering Polymers


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Ticona Engineering Polymers (Florence, Ky.; Sulzbach, Germany, Shanghai, China) will again receive a JEC Innovation Award for the first thermoplastic composite tailplane developed and put into production for a helicopter. It uses a composite prepreg made with Fortron polyphenylene sulfide (PPS). Together with Fokker Aerostructures, AgustaWestland and TenCate Aerospace Composites, Ticona will receive the Aeronautics category award at the opening ceremony.

The award goes to the new tailplane of the AgustaWestland AW169 helicopter, primarily due to its energy-saving lightness: With a 15 percent weight reduction compared with predecessor models made from conventional composites, this innovative composite makes a considerable contribution to a fuel-saving construction and thus to greater profitability and lower emissions. The 3m-long tailplane has a single-piece torsion box made from thermoplastic composite. This core element comprises four preforms co-consolidated under pressure. Both the leading and trailing edges of the tailplane are made from reinforced thermoplastic composite laminates attached to thin, pressed ribs and individually exchangeable. All the components are made from preformed TenCate Cetex prepregs based on Fortron PPS. The curved tailplane tips are made from conventional carbon-epoxy preforms.

The weight saving is made possible by the high resilience of the thermoplastic material as well as the strength and stiffness of the torsion box designed by Fokker Aerostructures in multi-spar construction. The economical manufacture of this complex component results from the co-consolidation of simple preforms.