TAPAS: the next stage
The TAPAS consortium consists of companies and knowledge institutes in the Dutch aerospace industry working together with Airbus on the further development of thermoplastic composite applications in aircraft fuselages, wings and tail sections.
The target is to further increase the proportion of thermoplastic composites in current aircraft as well as in the new generations.
On Monday 20 January the CEOs of Airbus, Fokker Aerostructures and TenCate put their signatures to the contract for the next stage of the Thermoplastic Affordable Primary Aircraft Structure (TAPAS) programme to run until the end of 2017. Senior vice-president R&T Axel Krein of Airbus (left), Sjoerd Vollebregt (right) and Loek de Vries, CEOs of Fokker Aerostructures and TenCate, put their signatures to the contract for the continuation of the TAPAS programme. The document was signed in the presence of the French President, François Hollande and the Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte
A demonstrator of a tail section made entirely of thermoplastic composite material is being developed as part of TAPAS 2. Other aircraft components too, such as the wings and fuel tanks, are being studied. A wing can be compared to the tailplane, but it is ‘a fairly complex part’, explains TenCate manager, engineering, Winand Kok. It has conflicting requirements: ‘It must be light and strong, conductive, the fuel has to be stored in it and it must be able to lift the aircraft off the ground.’ During a flight lightning may strike and static electricity cause sparks, which is not desirable in the vicinity of fuel tanks. While traditional wings are made of metal, which is a good conductor, composite is far less conductive. ‘You have to develop a specific solution for thermoplastics to overcome this, with each application making its own demands. In the aerospace industry everything is put under the magnifying glass.’