Linden S. Blue is an aviation pioneer. He and his brother Neal have been dubbed “the Flying Blue brothers” and depicted on the April 8, 1957, cowl of Life Journal as members of the Yale Aerial Expedition to South America.
Sixty-five years later, Blue has compiled a powerful resume within the aerospace business, together with president and CEO of Beech Plane Company, a director of Raytheon Firm, CEO of Lear Fan Restricted, government vice chairman and common supervisor of Gates Learjet Company and managing director of Spectrum Aeronautical. He continues to be energized by aeronautics, in addition to superior supplies equivalent to composites that permit for business improvements.
“The bodily properties of composites are compelling, there’s no query about that, in comparison with all of the metals – aluminum, titanium, metal,” mentioned Blue throughout a keynote deal with at ACMA’s Superior Air Mobility Composites Expertise Days within the spring. “And the great benefit is getting away from fasteners. That’s the place you get a variety of weight financial savings and labor financial savings.”
Blue, who presently is an proprietor and vice chairman of San Diego-based Common Atomics, mentioned the evolution of composites and far more in his keynote deal with, which is featured right here in an abridged model with subheads, adopted by a question-and-answer session with Tech Day moderators John Busel, vice chairman of ACMA’s Composites Progress Initiative, and Dan Coughlin, chief of commercial collaborations at Oak Ridge Nationwide Laboratory.
A ‘Higher Means’ with Composites
“When you actually wish to study to like composites, you must construct airplanes out of aluminum and rivets for 5 years as I did at Learjet. We made some fantastic airplanes out of aluminum, however once you walked by means of the manufacturing facility there was a cacophony of rivet weapons. While you see the labor intensiveness of it, you’ve simply bought to say, ‘There have to be a greater manner.’ Properly, what served me in composites was considering there have to be a greater manner.
At one level, I visited the [Learjet] Aeronca manufacturing facility in Ohio to study in regards to the thrust reversers for his or her jets. Within the course of, I noticed they’d made a composite flap observe fairing for a 707 or 747. That half was very giant – in regards to the measurement of their jet fuselage. And in reality the form was rather a lot like their jet fuselage.
It was fairly a revelation to me to see how they have been making composites, then return to [my factory] and listen to the rivet weapons and see the difficulties of blowing holes in materials and placing in rivets and all the standard management elements that go into that. At the moment, as common supervisor of Learjet I used to be all the time taking a look at higher methods of doing issues.
It’s a matter of matching accessible know-how to a necessity. On this case, Learjet wanted a extra economical model of its mannequin 25 [high-speed business jet aircraft]. We ended up being the primary individuals to use winglets to our airplanes. The benefit for the Learjet is we have been in a position so as to add wing space side ratio and get by with much less thrust.”
Early Adoption of New Applied sciences
“When Lear Fan was embryonic, they recruited me. I used to be very keen to take heed to their proposal as a result of I had seen what composites may do. I ended up changing into CEO of Lear Fan. [The turboprop airplane] was first-generation composites. We basically have been attempting to make metallic components out of composites. You would do it. In truth, previous to that we made a touchdown gear door out of composites. However the thought of doing an entire aircraft was an enormous step past that.
Within the first technology, once you attempt to make ‘black aluminum’ [CFRP] components you find yourself with a lot of the disadvantages of aluminum and few of the benefits of composites. So, you hope to discover a higher resolution.
Second technology was honeycomb sandwich panel, and that was a know-how we used with the Starship program at Beech. I left Lear Fan and have become the CEO of Beech Plane. The thought was to carry Beech into the fashionable period with the absolute best supplies. Honeycomb sandwich panels have been good, however we didn’t get the burden financial savings and there have been different points. Sandwich panels are fantastic in lots of respects, however they’ve a variety of limitations as nicely.The third technology is [representative of what] the 787 did and dramatically improved know-how over honeycomb sandwich panels. Honeycomb sandwich panels had been utilized in vertical stabilizers for a number of the large airplanes earlier than the 787’s effort to make the whole airframe out of composites.
The 787 is just a greater airplane. One among its main benefits, along with composites, is discount within the variety of fasteners by an element of 100 in comparison with a equally sized 777. While you cut back the issues that put airplanes collectively by an element of 100 that’s an amazing alternative for saving time and avoiding all the issues you get into once you drill a gap in a cloth.”
Subsequent-Era Composite Supplies
“Within the fourth technology, there’s the potential for decreasing fasteners by one other issue of 10, which might offer you 1,000 occasions fewer fasteners than standard aluminum. That’s what we’ve executed with the Spectrum enterprise jet. It’s not completed or licensed, however it has an excessive amount of promise. And as a substitute of fasteners it depends totally on co-curing – making giant components that go collectively homogeneously within the curing course of.
Maybe the fifth technology will begin to make higher use of thermoplastics. Thermoplastics have the benefit of decrease knock-down elements and the power to weld constructions collectively at very excessive temperatures. That provides you an integrity within the combining of components significantly better than both co-curing or bonding. I can’t say that thermoplastics are able to vie in all respects, however there’s an excessive amount of promise there.
I really feel very privileged to have been concerned in all 4 [developmental] phases that exist right this moment, and I’m hoping to be concerned within the fifth stage as nicely.”
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