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Chomarat presents the VX-1 KittyHawk the first C-Ply aircraft

News International-French

17 Feb 2014

This aircraft, designed by VX Aerospace, has a unique shape that is structurally efficient thanks to C-Ply, Chomarat’s advanced composite reinforcement material.

A unique shape with no wings for a reduced carbon footprint
What makes KittyHawkTM so different from other aircraft is its shape: it has no wings! Indeed, the fuselage and wings are combined into one shape called a 'lifting body' or 'blended wing' aircraft. The shape of the KittyHawk has numerous advantages over traditional designs such as: greater useable internal volume, greater payload capability, better structural efficiency, better durability and better manufacturability. The construction is thus facilitated as this design will have fewer parts and therefore be easier to assemble. In addition, the aircraft can be scaled to accomodate the intended mission. Manned or unmanned, the VX-1 KittyHawk’s massive internal volume is a huge advantage.

Furthermore, it will have a smaller footprint than other aircraft when based on payload capability. “The volume will also allow KittyHawk to lead the way in adopting CNG (compressed natural gas) as an aviation fuel. Existing technology CNG tanks fit inside the aircraft with no aerodynamic compromise. At less than 1/3 the cost of avgas, the KittyHawk will have unparalleled operational economy with emissions that are 40% cleaner.” says Bob Skillen, VX Aerospace’s CEO.

KittyHawk: the first VX Aerospace aircraft manufactured with C-PlyTM
The unique shape of the KittyHawk is made structurally efficient with the use of advanced composite reinforcement materials from Chomarat. C-Ply (prepregged with Cytec Industries’ resin system MTM 45-1 to create a low density, high damage tolerant prepreg material) is the enabling material for VX Aerospace to use their established hand lay-up and oven curing processes to economically achieve properties similar to autoclave cured UD (uni-directional) prepreg and automatically placed tape prepreg. The C-Ply material is durable to handle during lay-up, drapable to accommodate the compound curvatures, and can be manufactured to fully optimize the design relative to fiber angles and ply weights… to ultimately yield a low weight, high performance, and low cost final solution.

“C-PlyTM is the first true advance in carbon fabrics in a long time. It is designed to optimize fiber performance. Chomarat capitalized on the low-angle, thin ply, non-crimp laminate concept developed by Prof. Steve Tsai. The result is a fabric that allows for cost effective production of open mold parts with the same (or better) performance characteristics of ATP parts. This is a game changer for small business." says Bob Skillen.

VX-1 KittyHawk: a collaborative work for a game changing aircraft
The VX-1 KittyHawk is a game changing aircraft which combines the demonstrated advantages of blended wing aircraft of the past with state of the art design, materials and manufacturing techniques of today. This unique configuration is dynamically stable and aerodynamically efficient. Chomarat and VX Aeropsace have been working together on the project. “Chomarat and VX Aerospace have developed a close working relationship, where Chomarat provides enabling material and VX provides important commercial feedback and testing that has helped define our directional priorities in the development of C-Ply.” says Brian Laufenberg, President of Chomarat North America.

Flight testing will begin next month.
You can see a ¼ scale version of the KittyHawk made from C-Ply during the JEC Show in Paris (March 11-13) at Chomarat’s booth: M29 Hall 7.3, Booth M29