The innovation is the output from an 18 month project on Composite Electrostatic Transport Elements ‘CompETE’ which has been part funded by the UK National Aerospace Technology Exploitation Programme (NATEP) and supported by Airbus UK. The main objective of the project was achieved; this was to develop lightweight and damage resistant composite fuel pipe assemblies that can be used safely in composite aircraft fuel tanks.
The resulting fuel pipe assemblies incorporate precisely controlled electrical properties. This ensures that the structure is electrically isolating to resist lightning strike propagation, whilst still sufficiently conductive to dissipate the static electricity resulting from fluid movement. Another important property is damage resistance, the pipes have been subjected to various application tests including impact and fatigue cycling and have achieved the required technical specifications for damage tolerance.
The primary purpose of the new development is to enable a significant potential weight reduction in aircraft. The lightweight composite fuel pipes are designed to replace their heavier metallic equivalents, as well as enabling further weight and cost savings by a reduction in the palliative isolating/bonding hardware currently used. It is estimated that significant weight savings per aircraft could be achieved, providing operational cost savings via reductions in fuel-burn.
Advanced Non-Woven Manufacturing in the UK
Technical Fibre Products (TFP) is a leading advanced nonwoven manufacturer and has extensive experience in the development of novel materials to meet specific performance requirements in industries including Aerospace, Defence, Energy and Construction. The company’s dedicated Technology team combines an in-depth understanding of the nonwoven forming process with the knowledge and experience to work with a range of fibres, particulates and binders. The application of this expertise has enabled the development of a composite pipe with precisely controlled electrical properties.