Summer 2015

A new generation of helicopters

TenCate Advanced Composites has been chosen as the supplier of thermoset epoxy composites  for the rotor blades and cabin of the Marenco SKYe SH09 lightweight  helicopter.  Marenco currently has orders to deliver seventy-two SKYe SH09 helicopters. The helicopter is made entirely of composite.  Marenco Swisshelicopter’s selection of TenCate materials provides TenCate with a new European-based customer, and enhances TenCate’s growth in thermoset composites used for aerostructures.  

The Swiss manufacturer, Marenco Swisshelicopter, selected TenCate’s advanced composite materials as a result of its database, technical support and performance. Additionally, the resin system that was selected is capable of being processed under vacuum bag processing (typically called “out of autoclave”. The ability to process this material in lower cost ovens versus high pressure autoclaves reduces production and capital costs.

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The resin system selected by Marenco for use and qualification on the SKYe SH09 is currently produced by TenCate Advanced Composites in the U.S. and will be initially supplied from the U.S. As Marenco’s production rates increase, TenCate will be in a position to shift composite production to Langley Mill in the U.K. TenCate Advanced Composites UK will eventually become one of TenCate’s centres of excellence for thermoset resins.   TenCate Advanced Composites UK currently provides composites to Formula One, automotive, tooling and industrial markets. Over time, TenCate Advanced Composites in the U.S. will transfer production for aerospace products to Langley Mill to supply European based customers in the satellite, radome and general aviation segments. 

The young, fast-growing Marenco Swisshelicopter will be a strategic partner for TenCate Advanced Composites in the years ahead. According to Martin Stucki, the founder and CEO of Marenco Swisshelicopter, TenCate will ‘not only bring innovation, but also expertise in a variety of fields’. 

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The SKYe SH09 is a single-engine helicopter used for civil purposes, including transporting passengers, surveillance, firefighting support and search and rescue operations. It is a ‘new generation’, as the helicopter is made entirely of composites: both the structure and the main and tail rotor blades are of composite. The rotor is the rotating wing of a helicopter. Through the cabin, which is made partly of glass, both pilots have an unobstructed view of the condition of the terrain beneath them. This helicopter can operate for longer in higher or thinner air: the air ambulance version for example exploring the top of the Matterhorn (4,478 m high). 

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The helicopter can reach a speed of 270 km/hour and has a range of 800 kilometres.  

Composite materials from TenCate Advanced Armour are already in use in several helicopter platforms, including the Airbus Helicopter NH 90, the Boeing V-22 Osprey and the Erickson S-64 Air Crane.

txtures 2 summer 2015 cover