GKN, Bombardier, Spirit and GE are developing a new generation of aircraft wings
Major aerospace companies in the UK and the US are working to improve aircraft wing technology for enhanced performance.
In the UK, GKN Aerospace is leading a 13-partner effort on future wing research that will bring new design, manufacturing and assembly technologies closer to market readiness.
In the US, a Gulfstream jet with shape-changing wings instead of standard wings with flaps has been flown as part of an Air Force Research Laboratory project.
GKN Aerospace's program, VIEWS (Validation and Integration of Manufacturing Enablers for Future Wing Structures) aims to further develop technologies that emerged from its recently completed STeM (Structures Technology Maturity) research project which identified processes that could reduce the cost of manufacturing composite wing structures by 20 percent.
Work under the new program - backed by the UK's Aerospace Technology Institute - will involve:
- Identification and definition of future manufacturing requirements to produce novel wing architectures.
- Assessment of tools to improve product and process design
- Assessment of how to enhance production.
- Advancement of emerging composite and metallic manufacturing and assembly technologies and processes.
- Development of innovative inspection and repair tools.
Major participants in the 27-month project are GKN Aerospace, Bombardier Aerospace, Spirit AeroSystems, and GE Aviation. Also involved are the National Composites Center, the Manufacturing Technology Center, the Advanced Manufacturing Research Center of the University of Sheffield, the Warwick Manufacturing Group of the University of Warwick and the Advanced Forming Research Center of the University of Strathclyde. The Universities of Nottingham, Bath, Bristol and Sheffield Hallam are also participating.
“Through the Institute the UK aerospace sector is able to work together effectively to develop promising technologies and processes that will help us maintain our position as the strongest national aerospace industry outside the USA,” said Rich Oldfield, technical director, GKN Aerospace.
“STeM saw us make valuable progress and VIEWS will work from that base, taking us nearer to market readiness with a new generation of automated processes and technologies that will extend what we in the UK are able to manufacture, at the same time as increasing the quality, consistency and speed of production,” he continued.
In the United States, the Air Force's Adaptive Compliant Trailing Edge (ACTE) program uses structures designed and built by FlexSys Inc. and partners with NASA's Environmentally Responsible Aviation project to improve aircraft efficiency and reduce noise during takeoffs and landings. It does so by using a shape-changing wing instead of the conventional wing with flaps design. The Air Force said the technology has been successfully tested on a Gulfstream jet using the new wing technology.
“We're thrilled this first flight has been a major success and we're hopeful that further testing will bear out our theories for the potential benefits for this technology,” said Pete Flick, AFRL program manager.
He noted that successful completion of ACTE flight research will cap nearly 20 years of collaboration between AFRL and FlexSys Inc., which developed the variable geometry airfoil system called FlexFoil, that can be retrofitted to existing airplane wings or integrated into brand new airframes.
Siemens: Providing the First Industrial 5G Router
Across a number of industry sectors, there’s a growing need for both local wireless connectivity and remote access to machines and plants. In both of these cases, communication is, more often than not, over a long distance. Public wireless data networks can be used to enable this connectivity, both nationally and internationally, which makes the new 5G network mainframe an absolutely vital element of remote access and remote servicing solutions as we move into the interconnected age.
Siemens Enables 5G IIoT
The eagerly awaited Scalance MUM856-1, Siemens’ very first industrial 5G router, is officially available to organisations. The device has the ability to connect all local industrial applications to the public 5G, 4G (LTE), and 3G (UMTS) mobile wireless networks ─ allowing companies to embrace the long-awaited Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).
The router can be used to remotely monitor and service plants, machines, as well as control elements and other industrial devices via a public 5G network ─ flexibly and with high data rates. Something that has been in incredibly high demand after being teased by the leading network providers for years.
Scalance MUM856-1 at a Glance
- Scalance MUM856-1 connects local industrial applications to public 5G, 4G, and 3G mobile wireless networks
- The router supports future-oriented applications such as remote access via public 5G networks or the connection of mobile devices such as automated guided vehicles in industry
- A robust version in IP65 housing for use outside the control cabinet
- Prototypes of Siemens 5G infrastructure for private networks already in use at several sites
“To ensure the powerful connection of Ethernet-based subnetworks and automation devices, the Scalance MUM856-1 supports Release 15 of the 5G standard. The device offers high bandwidths of up to 1000 Mbps for the downlink and up to 500 Mbps for the uplink – providing high data rates for data-intensive applications such as the remote implementation of firmware updates. Thanks to IPv6 support, the devices can also be implemented in modern communication networks.
Various security functions are included to monitor data traffic and protect against unauthorised access: for example, an integrated firewall and authentication of communication devices and encryption of data transmission via VPN. If there is no available 5G network, the device switches automatically to 4G or 3G networks. The first release version of the router has an EU radio license; other versions with different licenses are in preparation. With the Sinema Remote Connect management platform for VPN connections, users can access remote plants or machines easily and securely – even if they are integrated in other networks. The software also offers easy management and autoconfiguration of the devices,” Siemens said.
Preparing for a 5G-oriented Future
Siemens has announced that the new router can also be integrated into private 5G networks. This means that the Scalance MUM856-1 is, essentially, future-proofed when it comes to 5G adaptability; it supports future-oriented applications, including ‘mobile robots in manufacturing, autonomous vehicles in logistics or augmented reality applications for service technicians.’
And, for use on sites where conditions are a little harsher, Siemens has given the router robust IP65 housing ─ it’s “dust tight”, waterproof, and immersion-proofed.
The first release version of the router has an EU radio license; other versions with different licenses are in preparation. “With the Sinema Remote Connect management platform for VPN connections, users can access remote plants or machines easily and securely – even if they are integrated in other networks. The software also offers easy management and auto-configuration of the devices,” Siemens added.