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Full scale innovative pressure bulkheads for Regional Aircraft Fuselage barrel on-ground demonstrators

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - FUSINBUL (Full scale innovative pressure bulkheads for Regional Aircraft Fuselage barrel on-ground demonstrators)

Reporting period: 2020-09-01 to 2022-03-31

The current work has been performed in the context of FUSINBUL, an European project framed within CleanSky2 research programme funded by the EU’s Horizon 2020 (Grant Agreement nº 831946).

The scope of this project is to perform the full barrel demonstrator tests, needed to validate the new concept of fuselage created and manufactured in the Green Regional Aircraft context.

Two advanced manufacturing processes have been developed and validated to achieve full scale innovative pressure bulkheads for Regional Aircraft Fuselage barrel on-ground demonstrators.

The different manufacturing techniques to carry out these bulkheads have been:
• Prepreg CFRP Bulkhead using a cobonding process in autoclave. First, the curved omega stringers are laid up and cured to be integrated with the fresh skin previously laid up by automated fiber placement (AFP).
• Dry fiber CFRP Bulkhead using LRI infusion process (out of autoclave).

The curved omega stringers and the skin are made separately by infusion. In particular, the skin has been automatically laid up by AFP, industrializing this new technique. Finally, the elements have been assembled by rivets.

For both manufacturing processes, the most advanced techniques of lay-up have been used to reduce recurrent cost and increase the level of automatization and production rates.

Finally, the pressure bulkheads have been achieved and delivered to LEONARDO Aircraft to be integrated in the REG IADP Fuselage Demonstrator to start the final assembly.

The milestones achieved in the FUSINBUL project have made it possible to develop the innovative 1:1 scale pressure bulkheads that will be used in the ground tests of the REG IADP Fuselage Demonstrator of the project leader Leonardo Aircrafts, using two alternative technologies of advanced manufacturing processes automatic (for prepreg carbon fiber and dry carbon fiber infusion)

Therefore, with these achievements, the main objective of carrying out the structural tests that will validate the new fuselage manufacturing concept within the Green Regional Aircraft of the European framework has been achieved.

Finally, these developments have enabled the evolution of manufacturing technology in composite materials, taking a step forward in the application of serial production on an industrial scale.
This report covers the work perform during the two periods from M1 to M36 where the bulkhead demonstrators have been manufactured.

Firstly, the main requirements for the bulkheads has been studied and analyzed to develop the manufacturing process for both techniques.

After that, the required tooling to manufacture the bulkheads has been designed taking into account the main needs of the manufacturing process and the industrials requests of the Topic Manager.

Once the tooling drawings were released, the manufacturing of the tooling has been carried out. Then, the quality control has been completed to achieve the required standards in aeronautical industry.

Afterwards, the tooling has been delivered to continue the activities and manufacture the bulkheads demonstrators.

Initially, full-scale trials for each technology were done to optimize the manufacturing process and verify the internal quality of the part by microscopy method, assuring that the quality achieves the required standards in aeronautical industry.

After that, the final pressure bulkheads have been achieved and delivered to LEONARDO Aircraft to be integrated in the REG IADP Fuselage Demonstrator.

So, the main achievements/milestones that this consortium has accomplished are the following ones:

• Definition of requirements
• Process detail assessment
• Tooling Critical Design Review
• Tool chain availability for parts manufacturing
• Test results for manufacturability trials of bulkheads for both technologies (prepreg and LRI)
• First delivery of bulkheads: 1st and 2nd prepreg bulkhead
• Second delivery of bulkheads: 1st and 2nd LRI bulkhead

As exploitation and dissemination results from FUSINBUL project, several activities have been carried out:

• A Virtual Workshop on Composite Material Manufacturing, organized by Clean Sky 2 JU, on 3 December 2020 has been attended; where some highlights of innovative tool technology developed in AFPMeT, MEPAFUS and FUSINBUL projects were presented.
• In 2021, a press release was published on Composites World (CW) website detailing some achievements in FUSINBUL project, see the link below:
• In 2022, an article was released in AEMAC magazine to participate in the monographic of composites materials, where FUSINBUL results were an excellent contribution in this field, see the link below with the publication:
• In June 2022, FUSINBUL participates in MATCOMP21 event in Seville, showing the final results of the project and exhibiting a LRI skin during the congress.
• In addition to this, an official webpage for FUSINBUL project was created to update the main achievements during the project. In the web the most important info related to the progress of the project is shown like meetings, workshops or main milestones.
• And finally, some updates, news and posts were also published in the official web of FUSINBUL and also in the social media like LinkedIn and Twitter.
This project has set up an innovative tool configuration to manufacture bulkhead in CFRP using different process.

This in turn will have facilitated the implementation of composite materials for structural components in a market segment like SAT where performance and cost are of primary importance. The main advantage of the use of carbon fiber is the ratio stiffness/weight, getting a reduction of the final weight for the parts which decrease the emissions CO2 of the aircrafts and reduce operating cost during the life of the aircraft.

Other primary industrial factors, like manufacturing cost, manufacturing process flow, energy saving, waste reduction, etc. have been addressed by the solution carried out during the project.

Therefore, these activities have contributed to strengthening the European competitiveness of the sector creating potential for growth by developing innovations meeting the needs of the European and global markets.

In addition to this, the main technological jump is the use of the infusion technology in this type of structure (high dimension part). This manufacturing process has been viable to obtain a high integrated structure by infusion. However, for the budget limitations at the project and the used of one tooling for both technologies in accordance with the Topic Manager, the dry fiber omega stringers have been integrated to the skin bulkhead by riveting and the prepreg bulkhead have been obtained by a cobonding process.

In any case, these developments have had an important impact in the global market and in the society by providing a more efficient tooling and manufacturing process helping in the achievement of high rate productions expected from composite aeronautical parts.

In particular, FUSINBUL has accomplished a step forward in technology and approach to improved part quality; shorten process cycle and less energy consumption for a full structural component in composite materials.
Assembly LRI bulkhead
LRI bulkhead
Delivery of prepreg bulkheads to Leonardo facilities