Composite aircraft

Composite materials are becoming more important in the construction of aerospace structures. Aircraft parts made from composite materials, such as fairings, spoilers, and flight controls, were developed during the s for their weight savings over aluminum parts. New generation large aircraft are designed with all composite fuselage and wing structures, and the repair of these advanced composite materials requires an in-depth knowledge of composite structures, materials, and tooling.

The primary advantages of composite materials are their high strength, relatively low weight, and corrosion resistance. Composite materials consist of a combination of materials that are mixed together to achieve specific structural properties. The individual materials do not dissolve or merge completely in the composite, but they act together as one.

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Normally, the components can be physically identified as they interface with one another. The properties of the composite material are superior to the properties of the individual materials from which it is constructed. An advanced composite material is made of a fibrous material embedded in a resin matrix, generally laminated with fibers oriented in alternating directions to give the material strength and stiffness.

Fibrous materials are not new; wood is the most common fibrous structural material known to man. An isotropic material has uniform properties in all directions. The measured properties of an isotropic material are independent of the axis of testing. Metals such as aluminum and titanium are examples of isotropic materials.

A fiber is the primary load carrying element of the composite material. The composite material is only strong and stiff in the direction of the fibers.

Components made from fiber-reinforced composites can be designed so that the fiber orientation produces optimum mechanical properties, but they can only approach the true isotropic nature of metals, such as aluminum and titanium.

A xecuter pro switch supports the fibers and bonds them together in the composite material.

The matrix transfers any applied loads to the fibers, keeps the fibers in their position and chosen orientation, gives the composite environmental resistance, and determines the maximum service temperature of a composite.

Structural properties, such as stiffness, dimensional stability, and strength of a composite laminate, depend on the stacking sequence of the plies. The stacking sequence describes the distribution of ply orientations through the laminate thickness.A composite aircraft is made up of multiple component craft.

It takes off and flies initially as a single aircraft, with the components able to separate in flight and continue as independent aircraft. During the Second World War some composites saw operational use [1] including the Mistel "mistletoe"the larger unmanned component of a composite aircraft configuration developed in Germany during the later stages of World War II, in effect a two-part manned flying bomb.

Experiments continued into the jet age, with large aircraft carrying fully capable parasite fighters or reconnaissance drones, though none entered service.

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A composite configuration is usually adopted to provide improved performance or operational flexibility for one of the components, compared to a single craft flying alone. Composite designs can take a number of different forms:. In the original composite arrangement, the smaller component carries out the operational mission and is mounted on a larger carrier aircraft or "mother ship". In another form the larger carrier aircraft conducts the main operational mission, with small parasite aircraft carried to support it or extend its mission if required.

A third variant comprises a small piloted jockey component coupled with a larger unpiloted component. The slip-wing composite comprises a lightweight upper lifting component, the slip wing, which assists the lower operational component during initial takeoff and climb: in the true slip-wing, the two wings act together as a biplane. During and after World War I, a number of efforts were made to develop airship-plane composites, in which one or more aeroplanes were carried by an airship.

The first British effort, undertaken in with a non-rigid SS class airshipwas aimed at the anti- Zeppelin role. The airship was to provide fast climb to altitude, while a B.

It ended in disaster when the forward attachment point released prematurely and the aeroplane tipped nose-down. Both crew were killed in the ensuing disaster. By larger rigid airships were available and a Sopwith Camel was successfully released by HMA 23 in Julybut the armistice halted work. The idea was briefly revived in when the airship R33 was used to launch and then recapture a DH 53 Hummingbird light monoplane aircraft and, intwo Gloster Grebe biplane fighters.

The first parasite fighter was a German Albatros D. The LZ Hindenburg later conducted trials using parasite aircraft in the days before it crashed at Lakehurst, but the trial proved unsuccessful as the plane hit the hull trapeze. Successful trials with a glider and a biplane led to the construction of the Akron and Macon airships as airborne aircraft carriers.A composite aircraft is made up of multiple component craft.

It takes off and flies initially as a single aircraft, with the components able to separate in flight and continue as independent aircraft. The first composite aircraft flew inwhen the British launched a Bristol Scout from a Felixstowe Porte Baby flying boat. During the Second World War some composites saw operational use.

Experiments continued into the jet age, with jet bombers carrying fully capable parasite fighters. A composite configuration is usually adopted to provide increased performance for one of the components, compared to a single craft flying alone.

Composite designs can take a number of different forms:. In the original composite arrangement, a small craft carrying out the operational mission is mounted on a larger carrier craft.

Thus it need not be compromised by the requirements for takeoff, climb and initial cruise, but may be optimised for the later stages of the mission. In another form the larger carrier aircraft [3] or mother ship [4] [5] carries out the operational mission, with small parasite [4] or jockey [6] carried to support or protect it if required.

A variant of this comprises a small piloted component coupled with a larger unpiloted component, typically used as an attack aircraft in which the larger component is loaded with explosives and impacts the target. The slip-wing composite comprises a lightweight upper lifting component, the slip wing, which assists the lower operational component during initial takeoff and climb: in the true slip-wing, the two wings act together as a biplane.

F9C Sparrowhawk inside Akron ' s hangar. F9C Sparrowhawk on the Akron' s trapeze. During and after World War I, a number of efforts were made to develop airship-plane composites, in which one or more aeroplanes were carried by an airship. The first British effort, undertaken in with a non-rigid SS class airshipwas aimed at the anti- Zeppelin role. The airship was to provide fast climb to altitude, while a B. It ended in disaster when the forward attachment point released prematurely and the aeroplane tipped nose-down.

Both crew were killed in the ensuing disaster. By larger rigid airships were available and a Sopwith Camel was successfully released by HMA 23 in Julybut the armistice halted work. The idea was briefly revived in when the airship R33 was used to launch and then recapture a DH 53 Hummingbird light monoplane aircraft and, intwo Gloster Grebe biplane fighters.

composite aircraft

The first parasite fighter was a German Albatros D. The LZ Hindenburg later conducted trials using parasite aircraft in the days before it crashed at Lakehurst, but the trial proved unsuccessful as the plane hit the hull trapeze. In the Tc-3 and Tc-7 non-rigid airships launched and recovered a Sperry Messenger biplane. Subsequently the airships Akron and Macon were constructed with such trapezes and also onboard hangars to house up to four fixed-wing aircraft.Weight is everything when it comes to heavier-than-air machines, and designers have striven continuously to improve lift to weight ratios since man first took to the air.

Composite materials have played a major part in weight reduction, and today there are three main types in use: carbon fiber- glass- and aramid- reinforced epoxy.

Sincethe use of composites in aerospace has doubled every five years, and new composites regularly appear. Composites are versatile, used for both structural applications and components, in all aircraft and spacecraft, from hot air balloon gondolas and gliders to passenger airliners, fighter planes, and the Space Shuttle. Applications range from complete airplanes such as the Beech Starship to wing assemblies, helicopter rotor blades, propellers, seats, and instrument enclosures.

The types have different mechanical properties and are used in different areas of aircraft construction. Whereas an aluminum wing has a known metal fatigue lifetime, carbon fiber is much less predictable but dramatically improving every daybut boron works well such as in the wing of the Advanced Tactical Fighter.

composite aircraft

Aramid fibers 'Kevlar' is a well-known proprietary brand owned by DuPont are widely used in honeycomb sheet form to construct very stiff, very light bulkhead, fuel tanks, and floors. They are also used in leading- and trailing-edge wing components.

In an experimental program, Boeing successfully used 1, composite parts to replace 11, metal components in a helicopter. The use of composite-based components in place of metal as part of maintenance cycles is growing rapidly in commercial and leisure aviation. With ever-increasing fuel costs and environmental lobbyingcommercial flying is under sustained pressure to improve performance, and weight reduction is a key factor in the equation.

Beyond the day-to-day operating costs, the aircraft maintenance programs can be simplified by component count reduction and corrosion reduction. The competitive nature of the aircraft construction business ensures that any opportunity to reduce operating costs is explored and exploited wherever possible. Competition exists in the military too, with continuous pressure to increase payload and range, flight performance characteristics, and 'survivability', not only of airplanes but of missiles, too.

Composite technology continues to advance, and the advent of new types such as basalt and carbon nanotube forms is certain to accelerate and extend composite usage. Share Flipboard Email. Todd Johnson. Science Expert.

How to design, build and test a composite aircraft

Todd Johnson has worked on the development, commercialization, and sales sides of the composites industry since He also writes about the industry. Updated February 08, Overall, carbon fiber is the most widely used composite fiber in aerospace applications. We have already touched on a few, such as weight saving, but here is a full list:. It is easy to assemble complex components using automated layup machinery and rotational molding processes. Monocoque 'single-shell' molded structures deliver higher strength at a much lower weight.

Mechanical properties can be tailored by 'lay-up' design, with tapering thicknesses of reinforcing cloth and cloth orientation.When it comes to determining how well an aircraft will perform, the thrust-to-weight ratio is one of the most important metrics.

Aerospace manufacturers have always aimed to keep this ratio as low as possible by creating lighter aircraft, but the metals traditionally used in aircraft bodies are heavy. Composite materials, on the other hand, are lighter and enable manufacturers to create more fuel-efficient aircraft when mixed with metal.

In the past, composites were mainly used in military aerospace applications. Manufacturing civilian aircraft with composites was considered too expensive, and if composites were part of their design, they were typically used for non-structural applications. This changed when the civilian aircraft industry had to respond to the rising cost of oil and pressures due to environmental concerns. The more lightweight aircraft structures that result from substituting composite for metal have lower fuel costs and reduced emissions.

Composites are now commonly used in civil aircraft structures in increasing amounts. The lightweight nature of composites is far from their only benefit for the aerospace industry. Additionally, composites are better at resisting fatigue and corrosion than traditional metal.

They are also easy to assemble. As composite technology continues to improve, all of these benefits are becoming more pronounced, and the costs of building aircraft with composites are going down. Balancing lower weight with noise control and passenger comfort.

The development of lighter aircraft through composites helps aircraft become safer and more fuel-efficient, but manufacturers also need to consider the comfort of the passengers in the cabin, excessive noise is often one of the main sources of cabin discomfort. Reducing the weight of the fuselage through lighter materials can result in a noisier ride if lower weight is prioritized over the need for noise and vibration reduction. However, composite parts for aerospace applications can be formulated and constructed to provide effective vibration damping.

Incorporating lightweight insulation and cushioning materials allows composites to provide better vibration damping and airborne noise absorption, resulting in an airplane ride that is much more enjoyable for the passengers and pilot.

As we look toward the future, the industry will keep demanding lighter, more efficient aircraft. Eventually, we may see aircraft constructed entirely of composite rather than metal, but for now, aircraft are still only part metal, part composite. In the meantime, we should expect materials manufactures to upgrade current composite systems so they provide more effective vibrational damping along with their lightweight properties. Aerospace manufacturers will therefore need to continue working alongside materials manufacturers to further develop the innovations that will facilitate the production of more efficient, quieter, and safer aircraft for civil and military use alike.

Polymer Technologies Inc. We are an AS certified company trusted by leading aircraft manufacturers like Boeing for products like our lightweight, fire-resistant open cell foam insulation. Contact our experts today if you are interested in learning more about our material solutions for the aerospace industry. Topics: aerospacecomposites. Polymer Technologies, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Responsive Website by MilesTechnologies. How composites changed the aerospace industry In the past, composites were mainly used in military aerospace applications. Benefits of composites for aerospace The lightweight nature of composites is far from their only benefit for the aerospace industry.

Balancing lower weight with noise control and passenger comfort The development of lighter aircraft through composites helps aircraft become safer and more fuel-efficient, but manufacturers also need to consider the comfort of the passengers in the cabin, excessive noise is often one of the main sources of cabin discomfort. Subscribe to Email Updates.Composite materials are widely used in the Aircraft Industry and have allowed engineers to overcome obstacles that have been met when using the materials individually.

composite aircraft

The constituent materials retain their identities in the composites and do not dissolve or otherwise merge completely into each other.

Together, the materials create a 'hybrid' material that has improved structural properties. The development of light-weight, high-temperature resistant composite materials will allow the next generation of high-performance, economical aircraft designs to materialize.

Usage of such materials will reduce fuel consumption, improve efficiency and reduce direct operating costs of aircrafts. Composite materials can be formed into various shapes and, if desired, the fibres can be wound tightly to increase strength.

A useful feature of composites is that they can be layered, with the fibres in each layer running in a different direction. This allows an engineer to design structures with unique properties. For example, a structure can be designed so that it will bend in one direction, but not another. In a basic composite, one material acts as a supporting matrix, while another material builds on this base scaffolding and reinforces the entire material. Formation of the material can be an expensive and complex process.

In essence, a base material matrix is laid out in a mould under high temperature and pressure. An epoxy or resin is then poured over the base material, creating a strong material when the composite material is cooled. The composite can also be produced by embedding fibres of a secondary material into the base matrix. Composites have good tensile strength and resistance to compression, making them suitable for use in aircraft part manufacture.

The tensile strength of the material comes from its fibrous nature. When a tensile force is applied, the fibres within the composite line up with the direction of the applied force, giving its tensile strength.

The good resistance to compression can be attributed to the adhesive and stiffness properties of the base matrix system. It is the role of the resin to maintain the fibres as straight columns and to prevent them from buckling. Composite materials are important to the Aviation Industry because they provide structural strength comparable to metallic alloys, but at a lighter weight.

This leads to improved fuel efficiency and performance from an aircraft. Fibreglass is the most common composite material, and consists of glass fibres embedded in a resin matrix. Fibreglass was first used widely in the s for boats and automobiles. Fibreglass was first used in the Boeing passenger jet in the s, where it comprised about two percent of the structure. Boeing's Dreamliner will be the first commercial aircraft in which major structural elements are made of composite materials rather than aluminum alloys.

Composite aircraft

Problems have been encountered with the Dreamliner's wing box, which have been attributed to insufficient stiffness in the composite materials used to build the part. In order to resolve these problems, Boeing is stiffening the wing boxes by adding new brackets to wing boxes already built, while modifying wing boxes that are yet to be built. It has been found difficult to accurately model the performance of a composite-made part by computer simulation due to the complex nature of the material.

Composites are often layered on top of each other for added strength, but this complicates the pre-manufacture testing phase, as the layers are oriented in different directions, making it difficult to predict how they will behave when tested. Mechanical stress tests can also be performed on the parts.Welcome to Revolution Aviation, Inc.

Our History. Revolution Aviation Inc. Several years ago, we dropped the name Team Tango and formalized the name as Revolution Aviation, Inc. Through the years RAI has continued to improve the existing designs and create new ones. We have developed six aircraft over the years and have marketed them to different customers throughout the world.

It is our 2 seat high performance aircraft that is unbeaten in the industry for ease of build, performance and cost.

The RAI-6 is in production and is marketed as such. The RAI-6 has a taller, wider, and longer cabin with room for four adults. The wing and aft fuselage remain the same. Even though the fuselage is somewhat bigger, the cruise speed remains the same. If you are looking for a 2-seat or a 4-seat best in class cross country cruiser, we have a fast efficient machine to meet your needs.

We employ modern fiberglass technology in high quality custom tailored kits. We gel coat most of our molds before laying up a part. This largely eliminates the dreaded pinholes found in composite parts that are not gel coated.

This in turn eliminates many hours of filling and sanding, and more filling and sanding to prep for painting. Following the gel coat, we lay up the actual part, using vacuum bagging and resin infusion where practical. These steps yield lighter, stronger parts and are common in the composite construction industry. Our are kits are very complete and manufactured to be built in to hours, which is a very fast build for a full size composite aircraft kit.

In recent years we began a program to reduce the need for precision measuring and fitting. For instance, anywhere we can, we use a jig to pre drill holes to save you time and eliminate errors. We now offer these fast build kits and even faster build kits by using a custom faster build program.

Our goal is to get you into a superior product, as fast as possible, within your budget. They range from a set of plans, to complete kits that include everything you need to make it fly. If you want to have fun, go fast, and go far, you are now in the right place.

But of course you should shop around. Go to ki tplanes. Enter mph cruise speed and the list gets much shorter. Also check to see if the kit is still current, and if the website is current. We, and many other manufactures, list speeds and range in knots and nautical miles. To make comparisons easier, we have included both sets of numbers. Also, you will not always be flying with full tanks, since the full wet wing XR is now standard, with no price increase.