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So You Want to Design Aircraft: Manufacturing with Composites

The market for aerospace composites is projected to reach $42.97 billion by 2022, up from $26.87 billion in 2017, at a CAGR of 9.85% from 2017 to 2022. Clearly, the use of aerospace composites in commercial aircraft has gained momentum during the past few decades, but there is still much room for growth and much more to learn. Lightweighting is generally considered to be the main driver for the increased and pervasive use of composites. However, beyond the contribution toward fuel efficiencies, composites also offer increased resistance against corrosion and part count reduction. Those corrosion characteristics, as well as fatigue properties, lead to lower maintenance costs over aircraft and components manufactured using traditional materials. Commercial aircraft are complex, sophisticated engineering marvels. And while introducing composites into new programs has added many benefits, it has also added complexity. This book aims to help manage and mitigate that complexity.

So You Want to Design Aircraft: Robots on the Floor

It is ironic that as aircraft have gotten more sophisticated, much of their manufacture has remained manual. However, as orders for commercial aircraft have dramatically increased over the past years and are expected to remain on that trajectory, the competition has become not just about how fast new technologies can be put on the aircraft, but about how fast the aircraft can be manufactured and delivered. Enter ever increasing automation and robotics. Just as it has taken multiple years to reach the sophisticated content levels on current generation aircraft, so too has it been necessary to continually learn new ways and means to increase automation on the manufacturing floor. For both aircraft on the flight line and on the production line, safety is paramount.

Advances in Electric Propulsion

Aviation propulsion development continues to rely upon fossil fuels for the vast majority of commercial and military applications. Until these fuels are depleted or abandoned, burning them will continue to jeopardize air quality and provoke increased regulation. With those challenges in mind, research and development of more efficient and electric propulsion systems will expand. Fuel-cell technology is but one example that addresses such emission and resource challenges, and others, including negligible acoustic emissions and the potential to leverage current infrastructure models. For now, these technologies are consigned to smaller aircraft applications, but are expected to mature toward use in larger aircraft. Additionally, measures such as electric/conventional hybrid configurations will ultimately increase efficiencies and knowledge of electric systems while minimizing industrial costs.