Periodic Reporting for period 1 - GAM-2020-FRC (Fast Rotorcraft)
Reporting period: 2020-01-01 to 2020-12-31
• In 2020, the NGCTR technology demonstrator (WP1) successfully held all the planned subsystems Critical Design Reviews. Technology Demonstrator Critical Design gate was successfully reached in December 2020. The latter proved the helicopter design to be enough mature to launch the manufacturing, assembly, integration and test phases.
• The RACER compound demonstrator Critical Design Review took place in July 2019 with some actions identified and closed further between Q4/2019 and Q1/2020. The manufacturing of major sub-systems and the long lead-time items procurement continued during the whole 2020. Key ground tests benches were also run
COVID outbreak had a significant impact in the activities performed at SPD level. Concerning the RACER program, COVID has affected both the Airbus self-funding availability and slowed down the manufacturing of primary systems. It finally lead to a postponement of major purchases to 2021 as well as to 6-9 months incompressible delay at program completion. The RACER master schedule was updated in 11/2020 with the First flight finally shifted to Q2/Q3 2022.
Concerning NGCTR, although relevant activities were slowed down, the implemented mitigation action (remote working and prioritization of tasks directly contributing to the TD first flight) allowed to achieve all the planned goals in 2020.
• Management and coordination and design integration: Technology Demonstrator CDR at aircraft level was successfully held in December.
• Tiltrotor system design: Assessment of TD performance, exploring the flight envelope and identifying the potential capabilities was done. Assesment of TD aeroelastics features was done resulting in no criticalities on the Wing. Assessment of actuating system loads with completion of the formal verification for aileron and ruddervator surfaces was performed for the CDR.
• Transmissions systems: Drive train PDR was performed in April 2020,. Detailed design started thereafter, with the concurrent involvement of Manufacturing Engineering and Procurement. Supply of long lead time itemsinitiated.
• Rotors systems: The design of the above items as well as the other with new design for the TD was finalised to the level of subsystem CDR, successfully held in December.
• Airframe structures: Structures design was progressed across the FRC IADP and AIR ITD. All of the major structural components, including the Nacelle under TRAIL project, reached the CDR maturity level by November 2020..
• Electrical and avionic systems: Electrical and Avionic systems CDRs were successfully held.
• Airframe systems and Final Assembly: Achievement of the design for subsystems up to CDR maturity level for Environmental Control Systems, Hydraulics and related basic systems.. Fuel tanks and fuel distribution system CDR’s were passed and respectively, followed by the complete fuel system CDR in November.
RACER demonstrator (WP2)
• RACER flight demonstrator integration: Activities in 2020 were mainly focused toward the closure of interfaces to assure the integration of the different sub-systems. Drawings release acceleration has also been a key 2020 priority, so as to launch as many manufacturing activities as possible. The manufacturing of RACER parts were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic with industrial plants stops and/or reduced capabilities across EU The preparation of the Flight tests and the management of all ground tests to be performed for the permit to fly have also been started. The 1st flight is postponed to 2022.
• RACER airframe integration: The manufacturing of the central fuselage structure is almost finished.. Assembly manufacturing and assembly of Canopy and Rotorless systems were finalized. All the RACER Tail in particular were delivered and shipped, for tail final assembly, and integration of relevant systems
• RACER dynamic assembly integration: Lifting and Lateral rotors, design activities have been completed and the purchase of materials continued. Design of the Main Gear Box did significant progress, manufacturing of MGB components could be performed. While the development of MGB is still at risk, some Recovery actions are on going. Fuel system is almost completed. The contribution of national programme (engine adaptation for high voltage) made possible the first RACER engine run on the engine. The second engine components were manufactured, and assembly started by end 2020. Concerning actuation systems of movable surfaces, recovery actions implemented end 2019 made good progress
• RACER On-board System Integration :Key electrical equipment activities were completed by contributing partners and external parties. Avionics system integration rig bench was continued in 2020, still with with Flight Tests crew.
The activity was focused on Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and environmental analyses. More in detail, preliminary LCA at entire RACER level was performed based on manufacturing & assembly processes, parts weight and materials, consolidated with data collected. Concrete implementation of ECO-related Materials & Processes took place in 2020. A new LCA software for ECO needs was used in support. Several selected sub-projects for ECO-TA related materials and processes are progressing well, across the demonstrator, and presented for selection.
Similarly, the strategy for the NGCTR Life Cycle Assessment was defined, and coordination with all parties. It is worth mentioning that relevant flagship ECO related demos having a focus on additive manufacturing for complex or primary structures or on out-of autoclave composite are identified on both demonstrators. The main NGCTR sub-systems, confirmed as Eco-related for their development activities performed in WP1, are as follows:
• Airframe Structures: Upper skin highly integrated CFRP wing box;
• Transmission Systems: Tiltrotor drive system main casing;
• Airframe Structures: Tiltrotor nacelle structure.
Technology Evaluator (WP4)
Mission scenario and analysis approach have been defined; during 2020, further analysis were provided for NGCTR and RACER, based on selected missions typical for both aircraft and selected technologies. The relevant data packs, for both reference and concept vehicles, were delivered and discussed with the TE. A collaboration with contributing CfP partners was established on both demonstrators. NGCTR TE first assessment was developed within the TE Transverse Area. The impact in terms of productivity and competitiveness of the NGCTR Tiltrotor Concept aircraft, which is subject to TE assessment, was continuously analyzed vs. the concurrent evolution of NGCTR TD design. RACER first assessment was developed within the TE. As the exploitation of RACER would first be for Emergency Medical Services and Search and Rescue, an analysis is ongoing to introduce more relevant indicators
The selected reference A/Cs as well as on the mission target used for comparison with RACER and NGCTR are subject to discussions in absence of existing reference for comparison.