Fokker Aerostructures and TenCate: 'a natural match'
TenCate Advanced Composites supplies thermoplastic composite material to Fokker Aerostructures in Hoogeveen. The material is processed there into parts for the aircraft and helicopters of Airbus, Boeing, Gulfstream, Dassault, AgustaWestland and others. TenCate and Fokker Aerostructures form a natural and reliable combination in their value chain.
TenCate is involved in various development projects and consortia for the aerospace industry, including TAPAS (with Airbus) and TPRC (with Boeing). One of the partners in these partnership alliances is Fokker Aerostructures, which specializes in the design, development and production of lightweight parts for the aerospace industry. The materials that are processed are metals such as aluminium and titanium, thermoset composite and relatively new materials, such as Glare®, a thermoplastic composite material from TenCate. The company supplies complete tailplanes and moving wing parts for commercial and military aircraft for customers such as Boeing, Airbus and Lockheed Martin. These are delivered in part directly and in part to tier-1companies, which are the suppliers of systems to OEMs.
Fokker, TenCate and NLR are partners in TAPAS
The material from TenCate Advanced Composites undergoes a variety of different treatments in Hoogeveen. Single-layer semipreg material is used to laminate large parts, such as the skin and the spars of the leading edges of wings, and rudders. The supporting torsion box in the tail of a helicopter is fused in a single process step. Cetex®, a thermoplastic composite material from TenCate is used by Fokker to make tens of thousands of press-formed ribs each year. All these individual parts are then welded together to form the leading edges of wings for Airbus A380 airliners and the rudders for Gulfstream and Dassault business jets.
Each year thousands of floor panels are also made from TenCate Cetex® for a variety of types of Gulfstream aircraft. In this process they are press-formed, bonded, thermo-folded and induction welded. The new Airbus A400M is fitted with ice-protection panels from Fokker Aerostructures, based on TenCate Cetex® glass-PPS. Fokker Aerostructures also designed the horizontal tailplane for the AgustaWestland AW169. Needless to say, all the processes and products have to satisfy the stringent quality requirements set by the aerospace industry in general and the OEMs in particular. This involves accuracies to tenths of a milimetre. It is specialist work, into which a great deal of development has gone.
According to Arnt Offringa, director R&D at Fokker Aerostructures, in the partnership with TenCate there has been ‘a natural match’ for several decades.
Together we strive to achieve the same goal: light, affordable aircraft parts using thermoplastic composite technology. By jointly distinguishing ourselves on the market with an exceptional proposition, we acquire orders. It’s like a marriage: you need each other to reach the goal you’ve set. Together you are stronger and you provide your customers with a better product’.
Photo: Airbus S.A.S.
Aeronautical drafters at aircraft manufacturers have been focusing on the aircraft of the future, creating animations of planes with remarkable shapes - aircraft that move like birds with a slow wing-beat. Arnt Offringa believes that the increasing scarcity of fossil fuels and global warming will ensure there will continue to be a great demand for economical and thus lightweight means of transport.
For the aerospace industry, this means an ongoing need for affordable, lightweight aircraft. TenCate and Fokker Aerostructures are extremely well placed in this respect, with unique thermoplastic composite technology from TenCate Advanced Composites. Material, production techniques and design expertise all come together here. ‘When it comes to engines, significant development is taking place: at a stroke they have become 20 percent more economical, which is a revolution in aircraft manufacturing.’ As an example he mentions the new Airbus A320NEO (New Engine Option) narrow body, which is fitted with these new engines. ‘These engines do, however, make the aircraft heavier, so its weight must be reduced. Herein lies a task for both of us.’