JEC Group have brought together the international community of composites leaders and executives in our Composites Circle as an unique networking opportunity to meet with both peers and future partners.
The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is a unique milestone in the history of commercial aviation. For the first time, the full fuselage and most of the structural components are made of carbon-fibre-based, unidirectional composite material. All the big composite parts for the airplanes are produced in autoclaves in Japan, Italy, Korea and Charleston, South Carolina – and so far, they are looking good.
(Published on September 2007 – JEC Magazine #35)
DANIELE MARTANI, INTERNATIONAL SALES DIRECTOR, INGERSOLL MACHINE TOOLS, INC.
Alenia Aeronautica, a member of the Finmeccanica Group, signed a formal agreement with The Boeing Company to manufacture fuselage sections 44 and 46 for 150 Dreamliner aircrafts. This is just the beginning! The future of the B787 looks bright: Boeing has already received more than 500 firm orders. This is the biggest commercial airplane ramp-up in the sector’s history. Boeing is planning beyond the rollout of the first airplane in the first half of July 2007.
To face this challenge properly, Alenia invested 500 million Euros in Grottaglie, Taranto, where groves of ancient olive trees were moved away to make place for an amazing state-of-the-art plant that was built in record time. Now instead of olive trees, carbon fiber is growing.
Flying from Italy to South Carolina
Alenia participates in the programme through a joint venture with Vought Aircraft Industries, USA. The manufactured sections are shipped from Grottaglie in huge aircraft carriers, to be integrated and pre-finished in the company’s plant in South Carolina. Then they are sent to Boeing in Seattle, for final assembly. Overall, the central sections and horizontal stabilizers represent 60% of the fuselage and 26% of the whole B787 structure.
The big airframe parts for the first jet are being manufactured by the international partners. At the former Boeing plant in Wichita, Kansas, Spirit AeroSystems has already built seven forward fuselage and nose sections, using Ingersoll’s fibreplacement machines. From the Far East, the Korean Airlines manufacturing division contributed using the fiber remplacement machines from Rockford, Illinois. The Camozzi Group, Italy is playing a major role in this technological challenge.
Its controlled company Ingersoll Machine Tools, Inc. USA provided the automatic fibre-placement machines that are at the heart of the production flow in Grottaglie. For now, two units are handling thousands of kilograms of prepreg carbon fibre, and orders were signed for two additional units. The tapes are placed with high accuracy on mandrels six meters in diameter. The job combines advanced mechanics and perfect control of seven axes with unique software technology developed over the past 15 years. According to Boeing, the large sections produced so far match quality requirements “actually better than we had anticipated.”
Unprecedented technical requirements
All the CNC-controlled, rotating work zones installed in Grottaglie are manufactured and installed by Italian company Innse-Berardi SpA, another member of Camozzi Industrial Group. Outstanding performance is required, since the total weight of the mandrels is up to 100 tonnes, with a proportionally high momentum of inertia. The mechanical torque that needs to be applied on each headstock and tailstock is undoubtedly a record in the aerospace industry.
Both types of machinery are serviced by Ingersoll-Innse Service technicians. According to the end user, the 24-hour service provided is in tune with the importance of the business.Industrial co-operation with the Camozzi Group has been successful so far. Alenia plans to continue, in order to face major upcoming challenges such as the new-generation Airbus aircraft.