Delcam has played a major part in a GKN Aerospace project to supply new electro-thermal ice protection technology for the wings of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft. The project represents the first application of this technology to a major wing environment.
The Delcam contribution involved both Delcam Professional Services, which developed a novel manufacturing process for the leading edge of the wing, and the company’s Advanced Manufacturing Facility, which manufactured demonstration parts and the initial production samples. The process is based on Delcam’s adaptive machining technology that uses a combination of the company’s machining and inspection software to manufacture complex components to high levels of accuracy on a consistent basis.
The complete Wing Ice Protection System for the Boeing Dreamliner is a joint project between GKN Aerospace and Ultra Electronics, which provides the System controller. The System will provide electro-thermal ice protection to the leading edge slats of the aircraft wing. Electro-thermal systems remove the need to bleed hot air from the engine, which has been the traditional approach to wing ice protection. An electro-thermal system is more fuel efficient and avoids the problems associated with channelling hot-gas tubing through complex wing and fuselage structures. As a result, the performance efficiency of the aircraft engine is increased, whilst maintenance requirements are reduced.
The new product is the result of the combination of GKN Aerospace’s unmatched expertise in advanced composite structures and the company’s experience with electro-thermal heating. Similar GKN products have already been proven on the Boeing V-22 engine inlet and on the AW101 main rotor blade.
Following the successful completion of the initial production samples at Delcam, the process was transferred to GKN’s Luton site for the move into full-scale manufacture. Furthermore, the staff at GKN were so impressed with the results from the Delcam software that they subsequently purchased both the PowerMILL CAM system and the On-Machine Verification version of the PowerINSPECT inspection software.