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Technical Paper

Variation Aware Assembly Systems for Aircraft Wings

Aircraft manufacturers desire to increase production to keep up with anticipated demand. To achieve this, the aerospace industry requires a significant increase in the manufacturing and assembly performance to reach required output levels. This work therefore introduces the Variation Aware Assembly (VAA) concept and identifies its suitability for implementation into aircraft wing assembly processes. The VAA system concept focuses on achieving assemblies towards the nominal dimensions, as opposed to traditional tooling methods that aim to achieve assemblies anywhere within the tolerance band. It enables control of the variation found in Key Characteristics (KC) that will allow for an increase in the assembly quality and product performance. The concept consists of utilizing metrology data from sources both before and during the assembly process, to precisely position parts using motion controllers.
Technical Paper

Towards Self-Adaptive Fixturing Systems for Aircraft Wing Assembly

The aim of this work was to develop a new assembly process in conjunction with an adaptive fixturing system to improve the assembly process capability of specific aircraft wing assembly processes. The inherently complex aerospace industry requires a step change in its capability to achieve the production ramp up required to meet the global demand. This paper evaluates the capability of adaptive fixtures to identify their suitability for implementation into aircraft wing manufacturing and assembly. To understand the potential benefits of these fixtures, an examination of the current academic practices and an evaluation of the existing industrial solutions is highlighted. The proposed adaptive assembly process was developed to account for the manufacturing induced dimensional variation that causes significant issues in aircraft wing assembly. To test the effectiveness of the adaptive assembly process, an aircraft wing assembly operation was replicated on a demonstrator test rig.
Journal Article

The Potential for Fibre Alignment in the Manufacture of Polymer Composites from Recycled Carbon Fibre

This paper studies the feasibility and potential benefits of aligning recycled carbon fibres, in the form of short individual filaments, to manufacture fibre reinforced polymer composites. A review of fibre alignment processes is presented to provide insight into the different alignment technologies. The main focus is on wet hydrodynamic processes, which offer a high degree of alignment for discontinuous fibres. The process parameters that govern the alignment efficiency are also reported. The effect of alignment on fibre packing efficiency in the manufacture of composites is included, together with a report of preliminary fibre alignment results obtained from three different alignment processes.
Journal Article

The Application of New Approaches to the Analysis of Deposits from the Jet Fuel Thermal Oxidation Tester (JFTOT)

Studies of diesel system deposits continue to be the subject of interest and publications worldwide. The introduction of high pressure common rail systems resulting in high fuel temperatures in the system with the concomitant use of fuels of varying solubilizing ability (e.g. ULSD and FAME blends) have seen deposits formed at the tip of the injector and on various internal injector components. Though deposit control additives (DCAs) have been successfully deployed to mitigate the deposit formation, work is still required to understand the nature and composition of these deposits. The study of both tip and internal diesel injector deposits (IDID) has seen the development of a number of bench techniques in an attempt to mimic field injector deposits in the laboratory. One of the most used of these is the Jet Fuel Thermal Oxidation Tester or JFTOT (ASTM D3241).
Journal Article

Technology Review of Thermal Forming Techniques for use in Composite Component Manufacture

There is a growing demand for composites to be utilised in the production of large-scale components within the aerospace industry. In particular the demand to increase production rates indicates that traditional manual methods are no longer sufficient, and automated solutions must be sought. This typically leads to automated forming processes where there are a limited number of effective options. The need for forming typically arises from the inability of layup methods to produce complex geometries of structural components. This paper reviews the current state of the art in automated forming processes, their limitations and variables that affect performance in the production of large scale components. In particular the paper will focus on the application of force and heat within secondary forming processes. It will then review the effects of these variables against the structure of the required composite component and identify viability of the technology.
Journal Article

Structural Quality Inspection Based on a RGB-D Sensor: Supporting Manual-to-Automated Assembly Operations

The assembly and manufacture of aerospace structures, in particular legacy products, relies in many cases on the skill, or rather the craftsmanship, of a human operator. Compounded by low volume rates, the implementation of a fully automated production facility may not be cost effective. A more efficient solution may be a mixture of both manual and automated operations but herein lies an issue of human error when stepping through the build from a manual operation to an automated one. Hence the requirement for an advanced automated assembly system to contain functionality for inline structural quality checking. Machine vision, used most extensively in manufacturing, is an obvious choice, but existing solutions tend to be application specific with a closed software development architecture.
Technical Paper

Stability Study of DC Electric Power System with Paralleled Generators for More-Electric Aircraft

Many More-Electric Aircraft (MEA) Electric Power System (EPS) architecture paradigms are being studied in order to provide the on-board electrical loads with high-quality supply and to ensure safe operation. EPS with dc distribution appears to be more promising due to higher efficiency, higher reliability, easier integration and lower overall weight. Another advantage of dc systems is the ease of sources paralleling, together with the optimization of load power sharing, this can lead to further EPS weight reduction. The DC bus can be fed by multiple sources such as generators, batteries and other energy storage devices. Many loads in MEA EPS are tightly controlled by power electronic converters and often behave as constant power loads (CPL). These are known as main contributors to the degradation of EPS stability margins. Therefore, stability study is one of the key topics in the assessment of potential EPS architecture candidates.
Technical Paper

Review of Reconfigurable Assembly Systems Technologies for Cost Effective Wing Structure Assembly

Airbus commercial wings are assembled manually in dedicated steel structures. The lead time to design, manufacture and commission these fixtures is often in excess of 24 months. Due to the nature of these fixtures, manufacturing is slow in responding to changes in demand. There is underused capacity in some areas and insufficient ramp-up speed where increased production rate is needed. Reconfigurable Manufacturing Systems and Reconfigurable Assembly Systems (RAS) provide an approach to system design that provides appropriate capacity when needed. The aim of the paper is to review RAS technologies that are suitable for cost-effective wing structure assembly and what knowledge gaps exist for a RAS to be achieved. The paper examines successful cases of RAS and reviews relevant system design approaches. Cost savings are acknowledged and tabularised where demonstrated in research. The research gaps to realising a RAS for wing assembly are identified and different approaches are considered.
Technical Paper

Regeneration in Aircraft Electrical Power Systems?

This paper considers a wide range of options for the allowing regeneration onto the aircraft bus for possible inclusion in future aircraft power quality specifications. For many loads, such as actuators, the size and weight of power converters could be significantly reduced if the requirement to avoid regeneration was removed from the specifications.
Journal Article

Reconfigurable Assembly System Design Methodology: A Wing Assembly Case Study

Current assembly systems that deal with large, complex structures present a number of challenges with regard to improving operational performance. Specifically, aerospace assembly systems comprise a vast array of interrelated elements interacting in a myriad of ways, resulting in a deeply complex process that requires a multi-disciplined team of engineers. The current approach to ramp-up production rate involves building additional main assembly fixtures which require large investment and lead times up to 24 months. Within Airbus Operations Ltd there is a requirement to improve the capacity and flexibility of assembly systems, thereby reducing non-recurring costs and time-to-market. Recent trends to improve manufacturing agility advocate Reconfigurable Assembly Systems (RAS) as a viable solution. Yet, adding reconfigurability to assembly systems further increases both the operational and design complexity.
Technical Paper

Permanent Magnet Starter-Generator for Aircraft Application

This paper describes a high-speed electrical machine for an aircraft starter-generator. A surface mounted permanent magnet machine is designed to have minimal rotor losses and a novel cooling system for the stator. An inner stator sleeve is adopted to allow for a flooded stator whilst minimizing rotor windage losses. Different slot-pole combinations are compared in view of attaining an optimal combination that provides minimum losses whilst satisfying the electromagnetic, mechanical and thermal constraints.
Technical Paper

Natural and Environmentally Responsive Building Envelopes

In a context of global warming and our needs to reduce CO2 emissions, building envelopes will play an important role. A new imperative has been put forth to architects and engineers to develop innovative materials, components and systems, in order to make building envelopes adaptive and responsive to variable and extreme climate conditions. Envelopes serve multiple functions, from shielding the interior environment to collecting, storing and generating energy. Perhaps a more recent concern of terrestrial habitats is permeability and leakages within the building envelope. Such air tight and concealed envelopes with zero particle exchange are a necessity and already exist in regard to space capsules and habitats. This paper attempts to acknowledge existing and visionary envelope concepts and their functioning in conjunction with maintaining a favourable interior environment. It introduces several criteria and requirements of advanced façades along with interior pressurization control.
Technical Paper

Modeling of An 18-pulse Autotransformer Rectifier Unit with Dynamic Phasors

The more-electric aircraft (MEA) is the major trend for airplanes in the next generation. Comparing with traditional airplanes, a significant increase of on-board electrical and electronic devices in MEAs has been recognized and resulted in new challenges for electrical power system (EPS) designers. The design of EPS essentially involves in extensive simulation work in order to ensure the availability, stability and performance of the EPS under all possible operation conditions. Due to the switching behavior of power electronic devices, it is very time-consuming and even impractical to simulate a large-scale EPS with some non-linear and time-varying models. The functional models in the dq0 frame have shown great performance under balanced conditions but these models become very time-consuming under unbalanced conditions, due to the second harmonics in d and q axes. The dynamic phasor (DP) technique has been proposed to solve that problem.
Technical Paper

Integrated Design of Motor Drives Using Random Heuristic Optimization for Aerospace Applications

High power density for aerospace motor drives is a key factor in the successful realization of the More Electric Aircraft (MEA) concept. An integrated system design approach offers optimization opportunities, which could lead to further improvements in power density. However this requires multi-disciplinary modelling and the handling of a complex optimization problem that is discrete and nonlinear in nature. This paper proposes a multi-level approach towards applying random heuristic optimization to the integrated motor design problem. Integrated optimizations are performed independently and sequentially at different levels assigned according to the 4-level modelling paradigm for electric systems. This paper also details a motor drive sizing procedure, which poses as the optimization problem to solve here. Finally, results comparing the proposed multi-level approach with a more traditional single-level approach is presented for a 2.5 kW actuator motor drive design.
Technical Paper

Information on the Aromatic Structure of Internal Diesel Injector Deposits From Time of Flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (ToF-SIMS)

The nature of internal diesel injector deposits (IDID) continues to be of importance to the industry, with field problems such as injector sticking, loss of power, increased emissions and fuel consumption being found. The deposits have their origins in the changes in emission regulations that have seen increasingly severe conditions experienced by fuels because of high temperatures and high pressures of modern common rail systems and the introduction of low sulphur fuels. Furthermore, the effect of these deposits is amplified by the tight engineering tolerances of the moving parts of such systems. The nature and thus understanding of such deposits is necessary to both minimising their formation and the development of effective diesel deposit control additives (DCA).
Journal Article

Improvement of Planning and Tracking of Technology Maturity Development with Focus on Manufacturing Requirements

This paper details the development of a user-friendly computerised tool created to evaluate the Manufacturing Readiness Levels (MRL) of an emerging technology. The main benefits achieved are to manage technology development planning and tracking, make visually clear and standardised analysis, and improve team communication. The new approach is applied to the Technology Readiness Levels (TRL), currently used by Airbus Research & Technology (R&T) UK. The main focus is on the improvement of the analysis criteria. The first phase of the study was to interpret the manufacturing criteria used by Airbus at TRL 4, including a brief benchmarking review of similar practices in industry and other Airbus' project management tools. All information gathered contributed to the creation of a complete set of criteria.
Journal Article

Implementing Determinate Assembly for the Leading Edge Sub-Assembly of Aircraft Wing Manufacture

The replacement for the current single-aisle aircraft will need to be manufactured at a rate significantly higher that of current production. One way that production rate can be increased is by reducing the processing time for assembly operations. This paper presents research that was applied to the build philosophy of the leading edge of a laminar flow European wing demonstrator. The paper describes the implementation of determinate assembly for the rib to bracket assembly interface. By optimising the diametric and the positional tolerances of the holes on the two bracket types and ribs, determinate assembly was successfully implemented. The bracket to rib interface is now secured with no tooling or post processes other than inserting and tightening the fastener. This will reduce the tooling costs and eliminates the need for local drilling, de-burring and re-assembly of the bracket to rib interface, reducing the cycle time of the operation.
Technical Paper

Impact of Electric Loads on Engine Shaft Dynamics within More Electric Aircraft

This paper considers the electromechanical interconnection between the electrical power system of the More Electric Aircraft (MEA) and the shaft connecting the engine to the generator. In order to investigate the coupling between these two systems the effect of an electric load impact on the mechanical system of the MEA will be analysed. In the MEA, many functions traditionally powered by pneumatic, hydraulic and mechanical systems will be replaced by the electrical systems. Thus the electrical power rating will be considerably higher than that of a traditional aircraft. With the increase of electrical power, the impact of electrical load on the mechanical system, especially the engine shaft, will become significant. This paper focuses on the study of the interaction between the electrical and mechanical system.
Technical Paper

Functional Modeling of 18-Pulse Autotransformer Rectifier Units for Aircraft Applications

This paper aims to develop a general functional model of multi-pulse Auto-Transformer Rectifier Units (ATRUs) for More-Electric Aircraft (MEA) applications. The ATRU is seen as the most reliable way readily to be applied in the MEA. Interestingly, there is no model of ATRUs suitable for unbalanced or faulty conditions at the moment. This paper is aimed to fill this gap and develop functional models suitable for both balanced and unbalanced conditions. Using the fact that the DC voltage and current are strongly related to the voltage and current vectors at the AC terminals of ATRUs, a generic functional model has been developed for both symmetric and asymmetric ATRUs. The developed functional models are validated through simulation and experiment. The efficiency of the developed model is also demonstrated by comparing with corresponding detailed switching models. The developed functional model shows significant improvement of simulation efficiency, especially under balanced conditions.
Journal Article

Flexible Tooling for Wing Box Rib Clamping and Drilling

Currently the wing box rib assembly process requires the manual location and temporary fixing of components within product specific jig or fixtures for drilling. After drilling and reaming, parts are separated, cleaned, deburred prior to adding sealant, reclaiming and final bolting, but this may significantly increase cost, manufacturing lead-time, reduces flexibility and cannot usually be economically modified for use on other aircraft types. Due to potential increase in demand for the next generation single isle aircraft, existing tooling solutions have to be improved and new technologies have to be developed. This paper describes the development and testing of flexible tooling to provide clamping and support for drilling wing box ribs to mating rib posts within a restricted environment. Results are presented along with a discussion of the problems that may be encountered during clamping trials.