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GKN Aerospace has delivered a pair of thermoplastic composite, induction welded ruddervators (the control surfaces for a V-tailed aircraft) and two compression-moulded access panels manufactured from re-used thermoplastic waste material, to Bell Helicopter, the company revealed on 20 June.

As partner on Bell’s Team Valor, GKN Aerospace has designed and manufactured the complete thermoset composite V-tail for the Bell V-280 VALOR. The ruddervators and access panels are technology demonstrators and are planned for flight testing on the aircraft in 2019. This will make the V-280 one of the first military aircraft flying with thermoplastic components.

GKN Aerospace is a technology leader in thermoplastic technology, with thermoplastic rudders, elevators and fuselage panels flying on a wide range of business jets. Injection of this technology on a military platform opens opportunities for wider application in the defence market. Thermoplastics offer significant advantages in terms of weight, costs, production time and environmental impact.

The two compression-moulded access panels have been manufactured from recycled thermoplastic waste material from the manufacturing process for the two ruddervators, and have been developed in a Dutch TPC-Cycle research programme led by Saxion, in which GKN Aerospace is a partner.

In parallel to the demonstrator programme, the GKN Aerospace global design team is supporting Bell with further design optimisation of the V-Tail.

Thermoplastics technology, as now being evaluated on the Bell V-280 VALOR, has a profound potential impact on the defence market. (Photo: Bell)

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