GKN Aerospace2007-12-10 12:11:21

GKN Aerospace and Sikorsky Aircraft complete the development of an advanced all-composite tailcone for the BLACK HAWK Helicopter

GKN Aerospace, teamed with Sikorsky Aircraft and the US Army's ManTech Program Office, has completed the design, development and manufacture of the UH-60 Common Composite Tailcone (CTC) test units for BLACK HAWK helicopters. Sikorsky is a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp.

As a result of this successful development, long-term production potential of up to 1,000 tailcones over the next 20 years is possible.

The new all-composite tailcone has met critical goals in reduced weight, parts count, tooling costs, and manufacturing costs. The program has employed an improved manufacturing approach through the use of a Reduced Tooling Concept which has cut the number of tools by more than 70% over traditional methods while producing a highly repeatable, close tolerance structure. Costs have also been reduced through the use of automated fiber placement in the manufacture of the tailcone skins - providing high quality, repeatable laminates.

The CTC uses the advanced, lightweight material X-Cor throughout the details of the assembly. This is an engineered tailored material that replaces traditional honeycomb in sandwich structures. The design also incorporates a paint-less finish which integrates the color into the skin laminate at the lay-up stage This new technique reduces labor costs while providing a high quality, durable finish.

In 2005, during the design phase, the CTC program received the prestigious Robert L. Pinckney Award from the American Helicopter Society. This recognizes notable achievements in the manufacturing research and development for rotorcraft components.

The GKN Aerospace facility in Tallassee, Alabama led the manufacture of the six test units and was responsible for design producibility, production inputs, tool design and manufacture, process development, and hardware fabrication. They were supported by GKN Aerospace, St Louis, where the CTC skin halves were fiber placed.

Jim Gibson, Vice President, Sales and Marketing at GKN Aerospace, comments: "This pioneering program for the BLACK HAWK helicopter has employed a range of new techniques and materials, creating a valuable database of knowledge and understanding for all involved in the team. We believe this will support Sikorsky and the US government as they bring the considerable benefits these technologies offer to other areas of the aircraft - and to other aircraft."

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