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Low Cost Rotorcraft Cabin Floor Structure

U.S. ARMY MANTECH

Reducing the weight of the UH-60/HH-60 helicopter through the use of lighter weight, and more durable composite materials.

OBJECTIVE / SOLUTION

Develop and demonstrate less labor intensive manufacturing processes capable of economically producing a lighter and more durable composite floor structure through the use of advanced materials and construction techniques.

Helicopters are weight and price sensitive. Excess weight translates into reduced mission duration, range, payload, and/or performance. Cabin floor structures that are lighter, provide increased operational performance—less weight equals more range and/or operational capability. The current floor is manufactured in a fi ve step process, an inner composite skin, an outer skin, a core blanket (spliced and stabilized) as individual cured details and then assembled into a final bonding operation. This manufacturing process is labor intense and expensive. The proposed cabin fl oor will be manufactured as a single step, co-cured structure, assembled from carbon face sheets and K-Cor™ sandwich core material. It will be a form/fit/function drop-in solution on both new and retrofi t applications. Fabrication, inspection and evaluation (destructive/non-destructive) of coupons and full-scale prototype hardware will validate the project’s success.

ACHIEVEMENTS

• Project results will contribute to meeting Force Operating Capability (FOC) Air Responsive and Sustainable Aviation Support (FOC-04-01), Strategic Force Protection (FF7), Future Force (FF11), Soldier Protection in Counterinsurgency Environment (CF4), and CF6 goals
• Single step manufacturing processes, reduced O&S costs, improved rate of climb/maneuverability and increased payload and range

BENEFITS

• New composite cabin floor structures will be lighter than the current cabin floor. (Current projection shows a savings of ~34lbs per ship set)
• Improved power-to-weight margin which equates to better performance and lower operational costs
• Form/fit/function replacement design for new/retrofit applications

STATUS

• Program is in its fourth and final year of funding (FY10)
• Requirements development, conceptual design, and risk reduction plan complete (FY07-08)
• Developed conceptual manufacturing, tooling plan, and materials optimization (FY08-FY09)
• Supplier selection complete and Purchase Orders awarded to Albany Engineered Composites and GKN Aerospace (FY10)
• Preliminary and detailed design complete (FY10)
• Tool design complete and first floor article manufacture is underway (FY11)
• Complete manufacturing process validation, fabrication of production representative prototype articles , and fit-check (FY11-FY12)
• Continue leveraging 2010 Improved X/K-Cor™ Capabilities Industrial Base Innovation Fund (IBIF) Program

WEAPON SYSTEMS / SECONDARY ITEMS IMPACTED

• UH-60/HH-60 Black Hawk Helicopter Family
• Future Rotorcraft Programs such as the Joint Heavy Lift (JHL) Helicopter

POTENTIAL COST AVOIDANCE

• Return on Investment of 4.1 to 1 with a cost benefi t of $22M

POC: Army ManTech Manager, U.S. Army Research, Development, and Engineering Command (RDECOM), Aviation Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center (AMRDEC), Manufacturing Science & Technology Division, ATTN: RDMR-SEM, 5400 Fowler Road, Redstone Arsenal, AL 35898-5000

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