Jets: small, convenient and comfortable
TenCate Advanced Composites supplies a number of aircraft builders with composites and prepreg systems for the manufacture of private and business jets. These materials are destined for both new and existing aircraft platforms: composites for Cirrus aircraft and the first planes in the ICON A5 series, and a prepreg system for the new all-composite turboprop Kestrel K-350.
Composites offer considerable design freedom, more room and interior comfort. The materials for these applications are produced at the facilities of TenCate Advanced Composites in Morgan Hill and Fairfield (United States). The proportion of composites in aircraft is steadily growing, and this applies not only to massive passenger aeroplanes such as those of Boeing and Airbus, but equally to small business jets or private planes of Cirrus and Gulfstream. The use of composites not only makes aircraft lighter and extends their life span, but also enables air pressure and atmospheric humidity to be increased, enhancing passenger comfort. Furthermore, no material fatigue whatsoever occurs in composites, unlike in aluminium.
At the end of 2014, a long-term supply agreement was signed with Kestrel Aircraft of Superior (Wisconsin, United States of America) for the Kestrel K-350.
The Kestrel K-350 is a new composite single-engine turboprop aeroplane. It can carry a maximum of eight passengers on high-speed flights over long distances to destinations inaccessible to large aeroplanes. Thanks to the use of advanced composites in its construction, the plane boasts a slim aerodynamic design and has a large pressurized cabin. Composites invariably offer a great deal of design freedom.
The new star in the aviation world is the ICON A5 of ICON Aircraft.
TenCate Advanced Composites supplies ICON Aircraft with out-of-autoclave epoxy composites for this amphibious sport aircraft. The ICON A5 can take off and land on both water and land. The plane is a two-seater, has a cruising speed of 194 km/hr and a range of approximately 550 kilometres. The first official plane, with Engineering Serial Number 1 (ESN-1), made its maiden flight on 7 July 2014. A second prototype is now being built: the ESN-2. This will be ready by autumn 2015.
The Cirrus Vision SF50 personal jet
In February 2014, a multi-year contract was signed with Cirrus Aircraft for the supply of advanced composites for the Cirrus Aircraft SR series of aircraft and the new Cirrus Vision SF50 personal jet. For the SF50, Cirrus selected TenCate’s TC275 epoxy prepreg system which is capable of out-of-autoclave processing. This processing reduces not only the costs of composites but also investment in their processing. More than 550 Cirrus Vision SF50 personal jets have been ordered to date.
Thermoset composites are used primarily for wings, fuselages, flight control surfaces and radomes, while thermoplastic composites are used in general aviation for interior applications such as panels and flooring. ‘TenCate has years of experience in this market,’ says Michael Cichon, director product marketing of TenCate Advanced Composites in the US. ‘Our in-depth material databases and our high service levels are greatly valued by aircraft manufacturers. This segment is therefore one of high value with continuing growing opportunities. Thermoset epoxy-based composites from TenCate, such as BT250E-1, TC250 and TC275-1, are the products used most often in general aviation.’