Today at the Paris Air Show in France the Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs, Henk Kamp, is signing a letter of intent (LOI) for the proposed extension of the Thermoplastic Affordable Primary Aircraft Structure consortium (TAPAS), in which eight Dutch companies and institutes from the aviation industry have been working with Airbus on groundbreaking technological innovations for aviation since 2009. An innovative fuselage panel for Airbus, which is made of thermoplastic composite from TenCate Advanced Composites and produced by Airbus, Fokker Aerostructures and other TAPAS partners, is also being unveiled at the Paris Air Show.
The companies and institutes forming the TAPAS consortium work closely with Airbus in the field of design and material, production and assembly technologies, supported by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs among others. Under the leadership of Airbus, the partners recently produced a demonstration model of a fuselage panel for passenger aircraft. The technological process was characterized by press forming, welding and co-consolidating the thermoplastic composite into a double-curved fuselage panel, including welded omega stringers and butt-jointed T-stringers. It is the first time that such a large-scale fuselage panel has been made of thermoplastic composite. Thanks to its unique properties – such as high stiffness, fire safety and excellent processability – this advanced material is a prime contender for selection as the material for the entire fuselage of future aircraft.
The LOI to be signed by Minister Kamp aims to extend the existing research agreement of the TAPAS consortium and focuses on the continuing development of thermoplastic composites for wing and tail applications, for support structures for engines, and for fuselages. TAPAS 2 will be the successor of TAPAS 1, which was initiated in 2009 with the aim of expanding the development of thermoplastic composites for Airbus aircraft design and bringing these materials to a higher technology readiness level.