Ticona, the engineering polymers business of Celanese Corporation, will again receive a JEC Innovation Award for the first thermoplastic composite tailplane developed and put into production for a helicopter.
It uses a composite prepreg made with Fortron polyphenylene sulfide (PPS). Together with Fokker Aerostructures, AgustaWestland and TenCate Aerospace Composites, Ticona will receive the Aeronautics category award at the opening ceremony of the JEC Europe on March 12 in Paris, France. According to Ticona, AgustaWestland’s AW169 helicopter won the award due to its energy-saving lightness: with a 15% weight reduction compared to previous model made from conventional composites.
As the first of its kind, the 3m long tailplane has a single-piece torsion box made from thermoplastic composite. This core element comprises four preforms co-consolidated under pressure. Both the leading and trailing edges of the tailplane are made from reinforced thermoplastic composite laminates attached to thin, pressed ribs and individually exchangeable.
All the components are made from preformed TenCate Cetex prepregs based on Fortron PPS. The curved tailplane tips are made from conventional carbon-epoxy preforms. The substantial weight saving is made possible by the high resilience of the thermoplastic material as well as the strength and stiffness of the torsion box designed by Fokker Aerostructures in multi-spar construction, explains Ticona. The economical manufacture of this complex component results from the co-consolidation of simple preforms. Durability and high impact strength of the thermoplastic leading and trailing edges are among the other advantages. JEC Europe 2013 will be held from March 12-14 in Paris.