Browse Publications Technical Papers 2019-01-1884
2019-09-16

Advanced Assembly Solutions for the Airbus RACER Joined-Wing Configuration 2019-01-1884

The Rapid And Cost Effective Rotorcraft (RACER) is being developed by Airbus Helicopters (AH) to demonstrate a new Vertical Take-Off and Landing configuration to fill the mobility gap between conventional helicopters and aeroplanes. RACER is a compound rotorcraft featuring wings and multiple rotors. The wing arrangement suggested by AH is defined as a staggered bi-plane joined configuration with an upper and a lower straight wing, either side of the fuselage, connected at their outboard extent to form a triangular structure. The ASTRAL consortium, consisting of the University of Nottingham and GE Aviation Systems, are responsible for the design, manufacture, assembly and testing of the wings. Producing an optimised strategy to assemble a joined-wing configuration for a passenger carrying rotorcraft is challenging and novel. The objective of this work concerns all aspects of assembling the joined-wing structure.
The joined-wing and fuselage structures will be produced independently and mated together during the final RACER assembly. A multi-stage process will deliver the joined-wing assembly and ensure it will fit to the fuselage. Producing the individual wing structures requires a novel build philosophy driven by the innovative, one-piece composite moulding that forms the leading edge (LE) and upper aerodynamic surface of each wing. Using the Flap sub-assembly as the tool to set interfacing wing-box items provides a cost effective solution to assembly jig design. The independent wing structures must be joined at the outboard hinge line, whilst meeting the fuselage interchangeability definition. Matched tooling, replicating the fuselage interface, will be employed to overcome this hurdle. Successfully joining the wing structures also requires the innovative application of 3D tolerance analysis methods to size bush diameters within the interface.
The overall build philosophy is summarised in this work, including assembly sequencing; definition of datum frames; assembly tooling; design tolerances and the analysis required to deliver assembly key characteristics.

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