Composites take to the air, and the road

Jason Ford

News Editor

Briefing starts with some bad news about proposed job cuts at defence giant BAE Systems.

Reports in yesterday’s Sunday Times and today’s City AM suggest that the company is likely to announce up to 3,000 jobs losses this week as government defence cuts start to take effect.

BAE’s military aircraft division sites at Brough and Warton are likely to bear the brunt of the cuts.

More positive news comes from Boeing where the company has delivered its first 787 Dreamliner passenger jet to Japan’s All Nippon Airways.

ANA is expected to operate the first commercial flight on October 26, albeit three years after the original delivery date.

The 787’s airframe is nearly half carbon fibre reinforced plastic and other composites which Boeing says offers weight savings on average of 20 per cent compared to more conventional aluminum designs.

ANA, which has 55 Dreamliners on order, will be able to carry 200-300 passengers per aircraft (depending on configuration) and use 20 per cent less fuel in comparison to other aircraft in its class.

Boeing adds that the expanded use of composites, especially in the highly tension-loaded environment of the fuselage, greatly reduces maintenance due to fatigue when compared with an aluminum structure.

More good news for composites comes from Stuttgart, Germany, where the Composites Europe exhibition is set to begin tomorrow for three days.

The organizers say the show will showcase ‘innovative solutions for major sectors of application, such as the automotive sector, the aerospace industry as well as the building and construction sector.’

From a similar arena comes a seminar that takes place this Wednesday entitled ‘Polymers for Future Transport’.

Part of the Interplas 2011 show, the aim of the seminar will be to showcase new and novel developments in polymeric materials that will be used in future transport, including smart composites in marine craft, new and novel materials, the next generation of power systems as well as the design and aesthetic aspects, light weighting, in vehicle technology and end of life.

Joachim Loos from Glasgow University will deliver ‘From lightweight to power generation: smart polymer systems’ as part of the programme, which includes ‘Performance composites for high volume automotive applications’ from Darren Hughes, Warwick Manufacturing Group.

The Engineer’s Andrew Czyzewski wrote recently about the Smart Forvision concept, an EV that achieves a 20 per cent increase in range through the use of more efficient materials.

A collaboration between Daimler and BASF, the Forvision utilises non-drivetrain aspects such as temperature management, organic photovoltaics (PVs) and LEDS, plus lightweight plastics to increase range. Click here to read more.

Still with transport and news of a one day conference entitled ‘EV2BE: Electric vehicles and their integration in the built environment’ taking place in Watford tomorrow.

A joint BRE  and CIR one-day conference, the event is expected to give attendees a clear overview of the impact of EVs and an understanding on how the adaption of infrastructure and how charging point networks will be developed.

Similarly, those attending will understand the local environmental impacts and implications of EVs, identify areas of commercial opportunities in relation to products and services, and learn about sustainable mobility issues.

Finally, China may have an opportunity to launch its ’Heavenly Palace’ spacecraft tomorrow when a four-day window opens for the launch of the craft.

The small, unmanned ’space lab’ is being readied for take-off to add to National Day celebrations on 1 October and is expected to lead to the nation’s first space station.