Cheaper airliners project takes off

Group study could lead to more cost-effective manufacturing

By George Paloczi-Horvath

An initiative which could lead to cheaper airliners was launched this week by a group of leading UK aerospace organisations led by British Aerospace Airbus.

The group will study the manufacture of aircraft structures using composites. BAe Airbus said the research could lead to cheaper materials and manufacturing technologies.

The £10m, three-year project is the second phase of Amcaps (Affordable Manufacture of Composite Aircraft Primary Structures). Jeff Jupp, engineering director at BAe Airbus, which builds wings for the Airbus, said that to make composite materials viable `it is necessary to find ways to produce a reliable, maintainable product at a price that is cost-effective’.

Half the £10m research bill will be paid by the Department of Trade and Industry’s civil aircraft research and demonstration programme.

BAe Airbus leads a 100-strong team of nine companies, including Shorts and Courtaulds Aerospace, plus the Defence Research Agency, the National Physical Laboratory and BAe’s Sowerby Research Centre.

The organisations will fund the balance of the £10m bill. Also involved in Amcaps II are academic institutions including Cranfield Institute of Technology, Brunel University and the University of Warwick.

BAe Airbus is providing overall project management for Amcaps II, which will examine materials, manufacturing and tooling technologies, assembly, components, non-destructive testing, analysis methods and cost analysis.