Collins Aerospace Invests $30M to Expand Global Repair Facility in Monroe, N.C.

Collins Aerospace has completed an approximately $30 million expansion of its maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility in Monroe, North Carolina.

Opened in 2004, Collins‘ Monroe facility focuses on repairs to a number of commercial and military aircraft systems, including actuation, cargo, rescue hoists and winches, landing gear, air management, potable water and lighting, along with 24/7 aircraft-on-ground spare services. The recent expansion increased the site’s footprint more than 25 percent, including a new two-story office building, added shop floor space and an enlarged loading dock.

“The ongoing growth of our Monroe facility represents our commitment to our customers and the community,“ said Mary DeStaffan, general manager of the Monroe site for Collins Aerospace. “This current expansion will allow us to better support our airline customers as they transition their fleets to more modern, next-generation aircraft. And we’re proud to undertake this journey with support from Union County and the City of Monroe as we continue to contribute to the region‘s growing aerospace cluster.”

In addition to its recent Monroe expansion, Collins is deliberating plans to invest another $30 million over the next three years to increase additive manufacturing and rescue hoist and winch repair capabilities. The company’s decision to further grow its operations is contingent on approval by both the Monroe City Council and Union County Board of Commissioners of a new economic development program recently introduced by both entities. The new MAGNET100 program is intended to encourage continued capital investment by companies over a 10-year period. To qualify, companies must meet investment thresholds of $30 million in the first three years and $50 million in the first seven years. The grant recognizes capital investment up to $100 million.

“Collins Aerospace is one of the crown jewels of North Carolina’s aerospace industry, which is among the fastest-growing in the U.S.,” said Christopher Chung, CEO of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina. “That Collins Aerospace continues to deepen its footprint in our state with ongoing investment is a strong validation of our business climate and attractiveness to aerospace and aviation companies.”

“In 2004, Collins Aerospace located operations in Monroe, helping to create North Carolina’s largest geographic cluster of aerospace companies,” said Chris Platé, executive director for Monroe-Union County Economic Development. “The company’s desire for sustained investment in our community further demonstrates the strength of Union County’s aerospace cluster and the commitment our local leaders have to support its continued growth.”

AEM Limited Achieves JOSCAR Accreditation

AEM Limited, a business unit of AMETEK MRO, has successfully renewed its JOSCAR accreditation. JOSCAR (the Joint Supply Chain Accreditation Register) is a collaborative tool used by the aerospace, defense, and security industry to act as a single repository for pre-qualification and compliance information. Using JOSCAR can determine if a supplier is fit for business.

“We are thrilled that AEM has once again satisfied the requirements to become fully compliant on the JOSCAR supplier accreditation register,” said Andy Wheeler, Divisional Vice President and Managing Director of AEM. “The accreditation is a testament to our commitment in the aerospace, defense, and security industries.”

AEM has been Europe’s leading independent overhaul and repair facility for over 60 years. The company has built a solid reputation in the aerospace industry, providing a broad range of services to international and regional airlines, helicopter operators, airframe manufacturers and military organizations. Conducting business from three sites in the United Kingdom, AEM is proud to receive the accreditation, which shows the company has gone through the process required to demonstrate its commitment and credentials to the industry.

Zetec Webinar Shows How to Increase Effectiveness of Bolt-Hole Eddy Current Inspections

Zetec Inc. has published its latest on-demand webinar detailing a more effective approach to one of the most common and critical nondestructive testing applications in aerospace MRO (maintenance, repair and operations): inspections of bolt holes in multi-layer materials.

The 40-minute webinar will discuss and demonstrate how using high-resolution C-scans and dedicated analysis displays for rotating-probe and eddy current array data can increase both eddy current inspection productivity and probability of detection.

“Rotating eddy current probes and traditional impedance and sweep displays lack the resolution to identify the individual layer where a defect resides. This can make it challenging to determine whether repairs are necessary,” said Nicholas Cardillo, Eddy Current Sales Engineering director for Zetec. “This webinar will show how to use readily available eddy current technology to better recognize signals of interest, understand flaw morphology and identify layers where bolt-hole flaws are located without the use of encoders or secondary manual measurement methods.”

The webinar features:

• An introduction to eddy current inspections of bolt holes and the specific inspection challenges related to probability of detection (POD) in multi-layer materials.
• The principles and application of examination techniques, including those outlined in U.S. Federal Aviation Administration Airworthiness Directive 2020-24-05 for the wing spar inspections of certain Piper Aircraft and the canopy sill longeron failures on F-15 fighter jets.
• A detailed look at examination results including how C-scan displays, advanced filters and data-review mode can increase user performance, POD and confidence in the eddy current inspection of bolt holes.

Zetec says their on-demand webinar is intended for inspection service providers, NDT technicians and aerospace MRO professionals. It is now available for viewing.

Prototype Development and Testing for Woven Webbings

In the fashion world, textile development is both an art and a feel. Industrial fabric applications do not follow quite the same pattern – they focus more on performance than style. However, there is still an interaction between the customer and the fabric, and most product developers want to touch the fabrics and work with them before using them in an industrial application. To ensure that a woven webbing fabric meets the performance requirements of an application in particular environmental conditions, it is critical that all are prototyped and tested.

What is driving the need for prototype development?

Two very different types of product development drive the need for a custom prototype.

One primary driver is product developers’ need for woven materials that meet the performance requirements of a particular new application. Developers trying to match up all the application performance requirements to an available solution often begin by conducting a simple Internet search on textiles based on published fiber performance and chemistry criteria. Textiles that meet established published specifications offer material performance predictability, but because applications are so unique, testing of prototypes is always required.

The other frequent impetus stems from a chemical company’s development of a novel polymer combination that lends itself to a fiber application. The chemical company then looks for applications for that chemistry and may approach original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) with the new fiber. The OEM in turn may have an application in mind – if they could get the material woven into a narrow fabric. At that point, chemical companies often contact woven webbing manufacturers like BRM to create a textile architecture in which the end material highlights the inherent chemical properties of the fiber. To ensure the fabric is fit for the desired end use and can be guaranteed to perform for a particular purpose and in specific environmental conditions, the customer must perform engineering and testing on a prototype
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All applications are unique

All applications feature unique characteristics – they rarely fit into a neat box. This is because, while woven fabrics themselves can be guaranteed to meet material design specifications, it is not possible to predict the performance of any particular woven material for all applications. For example, all materials to be used on the lunar surface must be designed to function within extreme temperatures: daytime on the moon’s equator can be as high as 90°C and nighttime temperatures can be as low as -200°C. Materials must also meet ultraviolet (UV) degradation requirements; prototypes are used to test for exposure time, amount of radiation, and type of radiation.

At BRM, every inquiry goes through a process that includes a regimented data creation method. Extensive sampling is performed on everything woven, dyed, and finished. All information is entered into a vast database of test data linked to all manufacturing processes. Application experts draw from this information during the product development stage to pair products with customer needs.

As one of the few textile companies with such an extensive database, BRM has become a go-to supplier to NASA. The company plays a prominent role in development of material for the US Department of Defense through many of its R&D offices and labs. BRM is also working with the Parachute Industry Association (PIA), US Army Research Laboratory (DEVCOM) and US Defense Logistics Agency to update, modify, and validate modifications to US Mil-specs and PIA specs to regulate quality.

Digging deeper into the prototyping process

When discussing prototyping in woven fabrics, it is important to note that all projects are prototyped and tested for the application – whether BRM has off the shelf fabrics or develops a new fabric.

The process begins with communication between the customer and BRM to understand the application, either using face to face communication or virtual platforms. The customer may show drawings and BRM shares relevant test report information. Then it is time for the prototype stage.

To save time and money, most customers start off wanting to incorporate an existing, off the shelf fabric into their development process. The majority can be handled by an in-stock fabric. Putting samples in fabricators’ hands is critical; samples may be sent for an initial evaluation, based on the project scope. BRM might send several materials that are close to one another but different in some way, along with data sheets or test reports. These prototypes will be tested by the customer for actual application performance with regard to thickness, tensile strength, and the effects of UV or saltwater.

When the project cannot use an off the shelf item, BRM must come up with a new solution to meet the requirements. BRM uses a rigorous regulated project planning control process for custom prototyping – an extensive step by step review of the application to determine what would be necessary to satisfy the customer and mitigate any business risk.

Weaving experts review all the specifications to gain a deep understanding of the environment the fabric will be used in, and what type of chemistry is required. They then enter into a product development agreement for a particular application, which includes producing prototypes for detailed customer testing. For example, BRM tensile strength tests are conducted using an approved ASTM method and known information on the mechanics of the material. However, while speed can be controlled in the lab, customer testing is required to model all dynamic forces under high speed conditions.

In most cases, customers want prototypes to blow apart and model through observation rather than benchtop studies. For example, space programs use prototypes to test the interaction of propellants with all structural materials in the vehicle, including webbing.

The US federal government maintains considerable mechanical engineering laboratory resources for this type of testing. It has been increasing its focus on gathering enough data to predict performance of materials in extreme environments to satisfy recent mission requirements pushing these limits.

Using prototyping process to help come up with a new solution

BRM uses a careful iterative process to come up with new fabric prototypes. When benchtop analysis to eliminate variables has been exhausted, application experts take a snapshot and determine which variables have not been eliminated. Then weaving experts go to the loom and weave a new fabric, using the ideas collected on potential changes in the loom. It is not an exact science – customers know that they will not know how the fabric will actually perform until it has been blown apart. In recent years, BRM has also increased its level of non-destructive testing. Rather than destroying the material at extremes, experts conduct cycle and abrasion testing to measure the effect of some stimulus to the material.

Everything done on the loom is meticulously documented, including any and all changes to the formulation. Internal test results on effects of changes are compiled. Customer testing provides additional feedback, which may lead to another round of changes.

One recent example of the importance of the prototyping process was a project for the recreational climbing market. The customer wanted to develop a stronger yet lighter material for use in sewn slings, structural loops of webbing used to fix gear to a climber or the mountain. This market is driven by weight, and the industry is always looking to get the same or better performance while reducing weight.

The customer wanted higher strength in the base tubular webbing. Established materials for this application must pass a standard – 22 kilonewtons (kN) over a 10 millimeter pin, the diameter of carabiner and connector in the climbing market. A standard sling has a substantial through-thickness and placing the sewn loop over the pin creates internal forces. In substituting material, BRM used a more densely packed yarn to achieve the desired increased strength. Changing just one variable in the weave structure changed the dynamic of the webbing, and the internal pressure forces caused the webbing to melt. This could not have been predicted without testing the solution using a prototype.

After getting the new and unexpected result, the next step was a forensic analysis of the material to understand why it melted. Application experts found that the high tenacity fiber used had a low melt point (lower than nylon) and the pressure caused heat. A visual analysis revealed that the loop had melted into a hard plastic mass, indicating the issue was generated by heat and not mechanical force. After the analysis, the application team investigated ways to modify the design to reduce the density and allow the fibers to be efficiently incorporated into the design without such high pressure. Lowering the fiber content reduced the density of the weave, which allowed all the fibers to load evenly, thereby increasing the woven structure’s tensile yield. BRM regularly applies the concept when trying to increase the performance yield of the fiber inputs.

Weight reduction is also driving development in the aerospace market. For outer space/NASA applications, it is expensive per pound to transport material from earth to the moon. The same is true in commercial aviation. For example, one current space application project that required higher performance materials for use as a tensile structure and mechanism for actuating a robotic arm on the moon began with standard mechanical engineering specifications but had to be tailored for the extreme environment found on the on surface of the moon. The process included several rounds of discussions and specification requirement changes to the base fiber. BRM and the customer are currently in the process of designing and testing multiple samples, and one will be downselected as the way to go forward.

A third example illustrates the importance of an iterative prototype production and testing process for new applications. It also underscores the challenge of understanding the relationships among the variables, even with a good understanding of the variables present from inputs. The project involves product development on comingled structural fibers with thermoplastic fibers. BRM fabric experts are investigating the properties and values if the material is woven into two-dimensional or three-dimensional woven structures. Three weave design material combinations are being tested to evaluate the performance characteristics of the design combination. While increased interlaminar sheer properties were desired and initially predicted, the increase in strength result was not ideal. However, energy absorption and dissipation properties was discovered to be more valuable as a result of the design.

Finally, prototyping is also valuable for medical applications, though it is less prevalent. The medical arena is a known environment. Performance is well-established and only certain fabrics can be implanted. For example, BRM has long made woven tubular materials used as structural component material for arterial stents and grafts. The woven structures are further processed by medical device manufacturers. In recent years, medical research and development has been focused on smaller and smaller structures, which have been difficult to achieve with existing yarn sizes. BRM is undertaking development with a textile yarn producer, reducing the size of yarn so structures can be smaller and smaller. For this application, prototypes of iterations is the path towards understanding weavability of a new fiber.

Prototyping reaps huge benefits

Prototype development in the webbings market has reaped enormous benefits to customers in a wide range of industries. There are limitations to internal testing – customer prototype testing is essential to ensure performance of the test material relative to the application and environmental conditions in which it will operate.

AAR Signs with Druck for Global AOG Support

AAR has signed an agreement with Druck, a Baker Hughes business, to offer global aircraft-on-ground (AOG) support for a range of engine pressure sensors. This service will be performed through AAR´s customer support team and worldwide warehouses network.

Complementing existing solutions provided to AAR’s client base, this multi-year agreement will prevent parts supply delays and provide customers with immediate access to pressure measurement technology. Druck sensors will be used to support applications such as: hydraulics; environmental control systems; fuel monitoring; auxiliary power unit operations; engine measurement; air data measurement; and cabin pressure.

“We are excited to add Druck´s pressure sensors to our portfolio to enhance our existing AOG solutions for customers,” said Darren Spiegel, AAR Vice President and General Manager OEM Solutions. “The AAR AOG team already supports a global customer base with parts supply and the addition of Druck’s industry leading pressure sensors will complement our existing sensor and LEAP product offering.”

“Druck has supplied more than 500,000 sensors to the aerospace sector providing unrivalled levels of accuracy and reliability across pressure measurement applications,” said Gordon Docherty, Druck Vice President. “Working in partnership with AAR provides our customers with seamless access to our pressure sensor technology, helping optimize operations.” 

Lockheed Martin Purchases 50 Dalistick Systems for F-35 Sustainment

Lockheed Martin has purchased 50 Dalistick Systems for F-35 Sustainment from Corrdesa, the company says. Corrdesa is now under contract to supply an initial 50 units, with options for 40+ per year for the following three years, to equip the growing number of F-35 squadrons around the world.

The Dalistick plating/anodizing unit is designed as a closed-loop system that pumps electrolyte from the bottle, through the plating tool where it repairs the aircraft, and back into the bottle for clean, no-touch disposal when it is depleted. The operator need only clean, smooth and measure the area to be repaired, glide the plating tool over the damaged area until the machine shuts off at the predetermined plating thickness, and apply a non-chromate passivate. The aircraft can then be non-chrome primed and painted, and put back in the air.

Lockheed Martin’s fifth generation F-35, is not only considered the most advanced fighter aircraft in the world but also the greenest. It is designed and produced with mission readiness and the warfighter’s success in mind, but at the same time almost all cadmium, chromates, and other toxic materials have been eliminated from construction and maintenance.

Toxic chromated cadmium for corrosion control has been replaced by clean, safe, and more effective chromate-free electroplated zinc nickel (ZnNi). For new-builds this is done in large, commercial electroplating tanks, but when the coatings are damaged in the field on-aircraft repair is required for a quick turnaround without substantial disassembly.

Over the past 7 years, DoD funding from SBIRs and SERDP-ESTCP has helped Corrdesa to develop and qualify non-drip brush plating and anodizing repair processes, equipment and tooling. Partnering with Dalic, France, the Dalistick non-drip brush plating equipment has been tested and further developed to address repair challenges in the USAF, US Navy maintenance facilities, and aircraft carriers, which require safe operation on deck at sea.

Brush plating is typically done in a hangar, where drips and spills of plating chemicals can be controlled, channeled, or at least wiped up to avoid exposing workers to harmful chemicals. But brush plating outside on the flight line or a pitching carrier deck is an entirely different proposition. For that the F-35 Ground Support Equipment (GSE) plating systems are installed in custom-designed ruggedized carts, enabling repair directly on the aircraft in harsh conditions. Being able to repair the aircraft with non-drip, no-mess technology saves time and returns it to service as fast as possible.

AMADA WELD TECH Announced the Release of the WL-300A Laser Workstations

AMADA WELD TECH Inc. announced the new WL-300A laser processing workstation, configured for nanosecond pulsed fiber laser applications. Typical applications include marking of metals, and select plastics particularly for medical, electronic components, battery, and aerospace applications.

This laser workstation is a larger version of the LMWS laser marker workstation that is designed to accommodate larger parts. Integrated with Amada Miyachi’s industrially proven LMF Fiber Lasers (10-70 W), the WL-300A units have the same GUI and interface for easy transfer from prototype to production phase. The WL-300A is available in bench top or floor standing options. Standard options available include an XY table, rotary stage, cover gas module, fume extraction, bar code reader, and camera systems to tailor the machines to the specific process.

Featuring fast, motorized Z-axis for easy focus adjustment, access to parts and tooling, and an optional XY table for step and repeat motion, the WL-300A offers a large viewing window for easy visual observation. Lens options include F-Theta 100 mm, 160 mm, 254 mm, and 420 mm for marking a wide variety of parts and sizes. An optional compact motorized rotary axis makes marking and welding cylindrical parts easy and fast. The workstation also provides easy part fixturing using the M6 threaded hole pattern mounting base plate. A fume extraction port is included with flexible tubing to extract harmful fumes created during the laser process.

The WL-300A can handle a wide variety of mark types, including line-art graphics; shaded graphics; TrueType fonts; single point or drill object arrays; and Data Matrix or QR code barcodes; as well as MS AutoDate, MS TextMerge, serialization, and barcode marks. Though primarily designed for laser marking and engraving applications, the laser source can also be used to weld and cut thin metals (up to 0.010” (250 micron). Software features include a powerful, user-friendly Windows 10 compatible Windows®-based job editor, easy graphics importing tools, multi-language support, and an advanced DXF filter with process optimization. Also available is password protected security lockout.

Lorin Coil Service Center Offers Comprehensive Services for Anodized Aluminum Customers

Lorin Industries is promoting its Coil Service Center (CSC). The company says they offer “the most comprehensive services available in the industry for slitting, shearing to leveled sheets, custom packaging, and more.” Whether destined for architectural, transportation, or consumer goods use, Lorin’s anodized aluminum is ideally suited for its end use thanks to the CSC’s services.

In addition, Lorin operates an in-house laboratory for color-matching and other testing. Experts measure and test the color value (according to the Hunter L. A. B. 3-dimensional color scale), anodic layer (using ASTM B137 testing), and gloss to verify that all are in specification multiple times during each manufacturing run. The testing laboratory uses an Atlas Weatherometer to perform accelerated weathering tests on Lorin materials to make sure they stand the test of time. Additionally the lab conducts and has testing data available for other tests, such as Salt Spray, Anodic Layer Seal Quality, and Abrasion Resistance.

When it comes to logistics, whether the anodized aluminum coils are secured to skids, shrink wrapped, or custom crated, Lorin transports its material to customers conveniently and damage-free. The company offers international packaging designed by packaging engineers, as well as proven, specialized packaging for domestic shipments. Lorin’s sheet stock skids are designed to provide protection surrounding the entire package, and the company builds custom crating when necessary to protect shipments.

Anodized aluminum is most often shipped to manufacturers in full coils, which can weigh up to 15,000 lbs. While this is a suitable bulk delivery method for many, it’s not ideal for all applications. Lorin’s CSC also delivers cut-to-length anodized aluminum sheets for clients who require or prefer leveled, sheeted material, such as for architectural projects that require panels of anodized aluminum or consumer goods with smaller parts. Lorin delivers the following range of anodized sheet sizes: gauge range of 0.004″ (0.1mm) up to 0.080″ (2.0 mm); loading width range of 7″ (178 mm) up to 62″ (1575 mm); and cut sheet lengths from 8″ (203 mm) up to 182″ (4622 mm).

When shearing anodized sheets to custom lengths and widths, Lorin utilizes leveling techniques that do not damage the anodic layer, ensuring the visual and performance benefits of the coil anodized aluminum are not compromised, thus ensuring a high quality end product.
Lorin offers a full service center to provide our customers with high quality made in America products and outstanding service and attention to detail.

Greene Tweed Announces New, Ultra-Low-Temperature EPM 953 Elastomer for Phosphate Ester Hydraulic Systems

Greene Tweed announced the release of its new EPM 953 elastomer for phosphate ester hydraulic systems in aerospace applications.

Developed for its ultra-low-temperature performance and compatibility with phosphate ester hydraulic fluids, EPM 953 outperforms existing EP elastomers and maintains an excellent seal at temperatures as low as -85°F (-65°C) or below.

Suitable for static and dynamic seals in hydraulic actuation systems, Greene Tweed says their EPM 953 delivers “improved elasticity at ultra-low-temperatures.” The new proprietary elastomer material has been extensively tested, ensuring high durability and little to no hydraulic fluid leakage over the lifetime of an aircraft. EPM 953 meets and exceeds the new AMS 7361 in independent testing.

In addition, the new EPM 953 improves dynamic cap seal energization while increasing the margin of safety and elasticity at low temperatures. Its superior hydraulic fluid leak prevention ensures reduced environmental impact by eliminating the release of phosphate ester hydraulic fluids into the environment.

ASM Rebranding as JANA Engineering

JANA, Inc., an engineering and technical documentation services company, has announced the rebranding of Aircraft Systems and Manufacturing, Inc. (ASM) to JANA Engineering.

Ean Niland, president of JANA, Inc., states that the move is the last piece of the transition plan that began when JANA purchased ASM in 2017. “We are undertaking this rebranding effort to reflect the reality that ASM has grown to become an integral part of the JANA family, and its inclusion is an important step toward achieving the overall company goals that were established when JANA purchased ASM nearly five years ago.”

Under the new name, JANA Engineering will continue to serve the Aerospace industry as a whole, with emphasis on operators and commercial carriers, component OEMs, airframe OEMs, and MROs. As the world leader in advanced avionics integration, JANA Engineering is able to offer FAA Organization Designation Authorization (ODA) services, STC certifications, design and engineering for avionics integration, fabrication/assembly and kitting capabilities, and 24/7 AOG support.

As part of the transition, the company name, logo, and website will adopt the present JANA branding. The content from ASM’s website has been incorporated into the existing JANA site and can be found at janacorp.com/engineering. The company says these changes will not affect JANA Engineering’s ability to deliver top-notch customer service and solutions to clients and that their primary focus continues to be ensuring that all projects receive the highest level of attention and follow-through.