Decarbonization at the heart of Daher’s technology roadmap
During the past 10-plus years, Daher has taken major environmental issues into account for its R&D roadmap. The COVID-19 crisis accelerated the aerospace sector’s transformation as well as the collaborative research of innovative solutions – even breakthroughs. “Tomorrow, aircraft will need to be greener, or will no longer exist.”
With its TBM aircraft, Daher has a unique platform for experimentation that the company is providing to other aircraft manufacturers and industrialists (including the propulsion sector) as part of collaborative research projects. To illustrate this, Daher currently is participating in 13 CORAC research and development projects (seven as a leader). The mission of CORAC (the French Council for Civil Aeronautical Research) – which benefited from a 1.5 billion euro grant as part of France’s aeronautical recovery plan – is “accelerating the research and construction of a carbon-neutral aircraft on the horizon of 2035, instead of 2050.” (Bruno Lemaire, France’s Minister of the Economy, Finance and Recovery).
The primary R&D projects underway at Daher are targeted both at reducing the weight of aerostructures (for reductions in fuel consumption and reductions in CO2 emissions) and developing more efficient and less energy-intensive production processes.
Thermoplastics: a true “game changer”
Daher devotes a large part of its R&D budget to thermoplastics. This material is particularly promising in the world of aerostructures. It lends itself more easily to manufacturing automation (meeting challenges to accelerate production rates) as well as being recyclable, repairable and weldable. Its mechanical properties allow less material to be used and lighter structures to be built overall. These are key qualities for reducing carbon emissions. This is why Daher is making all efforts to accelerate the development of real applications for thermoplastics for the benefit of its customers:
- In the framework of CORAC, Daher leads the largest French research project on thermoplastics: TRAMPOLINE 2 (TheRmoplAstic coMPosite for hOrizontaL tailplaNEs) + induction welding vs riveting (weight reduction of 15%)
- After more than three years of R&D work, Daher has succeeded in using recycled high-performance thermoplastic composite production scraps to manufacture rudder pedals for the TBM aircraft. Even better, the certification allows them to fly on this Daher-built turboprop-powered airplane. “With this project, we wanted to show the possibilities and interest of recycling thermoplastic scraps for the aerospace industry, and therefore provide an answer to some of the environmental challenges that aviation faces,” explains Julie Vaudour, Daher’s head of R&D. Lightweight, with low heat conduction, and equal or evenbetter physical-chemical and mechanical properties, Daher customers come out ahead. In addition to its environmental benefits, the cost of these rudder pedals is significantly lower when compared to metal machining.
- Daher has obtained the first results from an R&D project called “CARAC TP,” conducted in collaboration with a number of academic laboratories specializing in composite materials. The aim: to identify and characterize the thermoplastic composites that are best suited to aerospace applications and compare them to thermoset materials. The project will allow Daher to study materials in depth through multiple tests that go beyond the scope of the qualification programs conducted in the industry: impact resistance, fire resistance, environmental aging (ozone, UV, fluids), impact of manufacturing processes on physical and chemical properties, material performance, etc.
“The knowledge gained from this project will enable us to influence and motivate our aircraft manufacturer customers and to be at the forefront of the thermoplastic and thermoset materials we recommend according to their application,” explainsCharles Naejus, the project’s lead mechanic.
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