Aerospace & Defence News, July 2017

French 3D printing specialist Prodways Group has unveiled a new additive manufacturing process claimed to be ideal for producing large titanium parts for the aerospace industry.  The company claims that its so-called Rapid Additive Forging (RAF) process represents a significant improvement over existing titanium component production methods, which often involve a combination of forging and machining techniques. ‘’Certain titanium parts have manufacturing lead times of more than 12 months and implies significant metal wastes.” said the company.


The technology uses a robot head to deposit molten metal layer by layer in an atmosphere of inert gas. This part is then finished using traditional subtractive machining technology. According to the firm it is able to complete a large part in just a few hours. Prodways claims that the technique differs from other so-called hybrid processes in that it uses a specially developed metal deposition technology that ensures superior metallurgical properties for the end component.

The firm said that first metallurgical tests conducted on different parts revealed an absence of porosity and greater mechanical resistance compared with usual 3D metal printing techniques using laser or electron beam sintering.


The process has been tested on various metals, including titanium, and is currently able to produce parts of more than 70 centimetres in size.





The amount of aircraft deals announced at the Paris Air Show is expected to contribute some £13bn to the UK economy.  The Paris Air Show, which ran from Monday 19 to Sunday 25 June, saw orders, commitments and agreements for more than 1,400 aircraft, with a global value of £130bn.  Around 10% of which is due to benefit the UK aerospace, the largest in Europe, making it one of the biggest beneficiaries.


Deals were announced for:


1,220 Single Aisle Aircraft, worth £109bn globally and £9.7bn to UK industry

79 Widebody Aircraft, worth £17bn globally and £3bn to UK industry

128 Regional Aircraft, worth £1.8bn globally and £160m to UK industry


Highlights of the company announcements during the week included:


Orders and agreements for more than 300 A320 family aircraft – including a single order for 100 A320neos from airline leasing company GECAS, worth £1.2bn to the UK aerospace sector.


Following the official launch of the Boeing 737-MAX 10, the company recorded more than 800 orders, commitments and agreements for aircraft across the entire 737 MAX family range.


Airbus also confirmed an order for 10 A350-900s from Ethiopian Airlines and eight A330neos from Zagros Airlines. Both orders will include UK-made wings and engines, and together are worth around £2bn to UK industry.


More than 60 orders and commitments for Bombardier’s Q400 regional turbo-prop aircraft. Worth more than £30m to the UK.


Manufacturing centres across the UK will benefit from this new business, including:


Broughton – design, development and manufacturing of wings for all Airbus aircraft platforms, Including the A320 family model that saw orders and commitments of more than 300 aircraft.

Isle of Wight – GKN Aerospace makes fuel-saving advanced technology winglets for Boeing’s 737 MAX.


Derby – Rolls Royce designs and produces the world’s most efficient large aero engine, the Trent XWB, for the Airbus A350.



Belfast, Northern Ireland – Bombardier Aerospace manufacture wing-mounted flight components for the Q400.





Boeing has launched the biggest version yet of the 737 short-haul jet. The world’s largest commercial aircraft maker announced plans for the 737 Max 10 at the Paris Air Show.


The new variant of the plane can carry up to 230 passengers and already has more than 240 orders from 3 customers. Boeing says the new 737 will have the lowest operating costs of any single-aisle plane ever produced. The US company has had about 3,700 orders for the 737 Max family, which ranges from the 172-seat Max 7 to the 220-seat Max 9. The Max 10 is 66 inches longer than the Max 9 at 143ft Sin (43.8m), but its slightly bigger passenger capacity means its range is 300 nautical miles less than the 3,515 of the Max 8 and 9.


Boeing is increasing 737 productions from 42 to 47 planes a month by the end of this year and will reach 57 annually by 2020 to meet demand.  Boeing is also evaluating demand for a new plane that would sit in between the largest 737 variants, and the 787 Dreamliner, and will come into service in 2024-25 if it goes ahead.





The University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) has completed an £850,000 project to offer the UK aerospace sector a unique capability for high accuracy robotic machining.  The ARMC reportedly identified the need for the project after carrying out three years of robot machining research for aerospace OEMs and high-end automotive manufacturers.


The AMRC has combined an existing accurate robotic platform with high expertise in CNC machine tool dynamics in a bid to enhance the robot’s accuracy and overcome its “lack of stiffness and dynamic stability”.  The centre has had the latest accurate Renishaw rotary encoders incorporated into its Kuka Titan’ robot and linked to the robot’s Siemens 840D controller.






Rolls-Royce has won a major order from Ethiopian Airlines to provide Trent XWB engines, built in Derby, for ten new Airbus A350-900 aircraft.  Ethiopian became Africa’s first A350 operator in 2015 and currently has four of its initial 14 aircraft in service.


The new order brings Rolls-Royce’s manufacturing backlog to over 1,500 engines, representing over six years of production from its facilities in the Derby and Germany.





Boeing has raised its forecast for new aeroplane demand, projecting the need for 41,030 new aeroplanes over the next 20 years valued at USD$6.1 trillion dollars. The US-headquartered company’s annual Current Market Outlook (CMO) was released at the Paris Air Show, with total aeroplane demand rising 3.6% over last year’s forecast.


According to the report, the single-aisle segment will see the most growth over the forecast, fuelled by low-cost carriers and emerging markets. 29.530 new aeroplanes will be needed in this segment, an increase of almost 5% over last year.


The forecast for the wide body segment includes 9,130 aeroplanes, with a large wave of potential replacement demand beginning early in the next decade. With more airlines shifting to small and medium/large wide body aeroplanes like the 787 and 777X, the primary demand for very large aeroplanes going forward will be in the cargo market. Boeing projects the need for 920 new production wide body freighters over the forecast period.


The Asia market, including China, will continue to lead the way in total aeroplane deliveries over the next two decades. Worldwide, 57% of the new deliveries will be for airline growth, while 43% will be for replacement of older aeroplanes with new, more fuel-efficient jets.






Airbus has used the Paris air show to demonstrate the latest phase in its development of a concept that it claims represents a step-change in the performance of helicopters.


Codenamed Racer (Rapid and Cost-Effective Rotorcraft) the high speed and high efficiency rotorcraft is being developed through the EU’s CleanSky 2 Initiative, a research program aimed at developing technologies that can reduce the environmental impact of aviation.  According to Airbus the helicopter is designed to achieve the best-possible trade-off between speed, cost-efficiency, sustainability and mission performance and will be optimised for a cruise speed of more than 400km/h.


The key concept represents a fundamental change in the way the helicopter is propelled and kept aloft. Rather than generating thrust from the main rotor by twisting the blades of the propeller along their axes to change their angle of attack to the air, the craft is equipped with two forward-facing propellers placed at the end of short forward-angled wings that sit on top of the aircraft cabin and underneath the main rotor, positioned so that their rotation does not interfere with that of the main rotor.


A key feature of the aircraft is an innovative ‘’box-wing” structure that enables a number of benefits; including improved lift performance in forward flight, and the incorporation of so-called ‘’pusher “propellers on the lower wing, which produce more thrust than puller propellers.

Final assembly of the demonstrator is expected to start in 2019, with a first flight the following year.





New materials and 3D Printing are making planes lighter, more efficient and cheaper, say companies at the Paris Air Show.


British company Sigma Components are using a thermoplastic composite – material which is melted before cooling and hardening – to create ultra-lightweight but durable plane parts.  Using thermoplastic pieces in an engine could save 10kg, for a whole plane, 100kg could be saved – enough to take on another passenger.


Sigma also uses traditional materials in non-traditional ways, such as 3D printing metal alloys. It is far lighter, using less material – and therefore costing less money – but has been intelligently engineered and printed to be of the same strength.


Other companies at the air show are also demonstrating techniques which let them use less material but keep the same strength when making parts.


Dassault Systemes demonstrated software which creates simulated aircraft parts based on a set of constraints – set by an engineer – and a virtual model of the objects the part must link. The result is noticeably streamlined, with more organic-looking structures replacing the sharp lines and hard corners of the human-designed pieces. The lighter parts are virtually stress tested before real-world testing, revealing the same strength as the outdated part.

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