Protecting people in transit: travelling by aircraft
TenCate Advanced Composites supplies the aerospace industry with thermoset and thermoplastic composite. The major end-users in the aerospace industry are Airbus and Boeing. The proportion of composites in new generations of aircraft is increasing. This applies to parts for the fuselage and wings as well as for the interior. In 2014 the market group is expected to increase its revenues and result due to increasing production for aircraft for which qualifications have been received.
Increasing opportunities for communication during passenger flights, especially in the United States, have led to a great demand for radomes. These are made of thermoset composite material and often involve the nose of the aircraft, which houses the radar equipment. These materials are subject to stringent requirements for impact tolerance. They must be made in an extremely clean environment (a clean room), so they do not become contaminated with conductive particles, which may lead to safety problems and communication malfunctions.
Airbus A320 neo (Photo: Airbus S.A.S.)
TenCate Advanced Composites USA currently supplies many composite materials to both US and European aircraft seat manufacturers. One of these customers is Geven, an Italian company manufacturing aircraft seats and interiors. The American company Cutting Dynamics has used TenCate composite to make a lightweight, slim seat frame with high crash-resistance (up to 16G).
The French company Expliseat has made an aircraft seat weighing a mere 4 kilos, based on a combination of titanium and TenCate composite. This provides a saving on fuel of up to €370,000 a year for each A320 or B737. It is the lightest aircraft seat ever to have withstood the crash test. Meanwhile a contract has been signed for the delivery of these seats to a European aircraft manufacturer. BE Aerospace, also a major seat manufacturer, uses TenCate Cetex® laminate for the structure that joins the seat to the floor. If it is the buyer of the aircraft who determines which interior will be used in the aircraft, this is known as buyer-furnished equipment. If the aircraft manufacturer sees to this, then it is known as supplier-furnished equipment.
New seats are one thing, but the replacement or retrofit market is also important. Aircraft operators like to replace old seats with new ones, as nowadays these are lighter, smaller and look more attractive. Not only do they save weight, but also space, which is then used to place one or two additional rows of seats.
Composites are also used in the galleys: the aircraft kitchen. The galleys of the Boeing 737s of SouthWest Airlines (photo Wade deNero) are made of TenCate materials. SouthWest is the largest low-cost carrier in the US and, measured by the number of passengers transported, the largest aerospace company in the world. The materials for kitchens and other interior applications must satisfy very strict fire safety requirements. Interior materials from TenCate also score well on their self-extinguishing capability and requirements relating to fire smoke toxicity. This, moreover, also makes them suitable for ships and trains, which have longer evacuation times.