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New Technologies for Airframe Structural Assemblies
ISSN: 0148-7191, e-ISSN: 2688-3627
Published September 16, 2019 by SAE International in United States
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Event: AeroTech Europe
With air traffic demand constantly increasing and several years of aircraft production in their backlog, major aircraft manufacturers are now shifting their focus toward improving assembly process efficiency. One of the most promising solutions, known as “One Side Assembly”, aims to perform the whole assembly sequence from one side of the structure (drilling, temporary fastener installation and removal, blind fastener installation, assembly control) and with a high level of integrated automation. Investments in robotic equipment, automation engineering and innovation are very active and automation capabilities have already increased a lot in the aerospace industry. As an example, drilling operations for large dimensions airframe are clearly moving from manual to automated. However, despite more and more clever and sophisticated robotics, the use of historical fasteners with two side installation method remains a strong limitation to innovative automated assembly sequences. A blind fastener which can provide the same mechanical characteristics than current structural fasteners, while providing automation friendly features and meeting cost objectives is a real “must have” for assembly process efficiency improvements. It is also full of challenges for aerospace fasteners industry. Many research and development activities are on-going to remove fasteners from the equation of aerospace structure assemblies, but we will consider in this article that fasteners will remain a good solution for many years from now, which is shared by a lot of professionals and which doesn’t mean that nothing will change.