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June 2017

Lightweight Damage-resistant Composite Fuel Pipe Assemblies by Tods Aerospace

Tods Aerospace, a Unitech Aerospace Company, has completed an 18-month project to develop lightweight damage resistant composite fuel pipe assemblies that by virtue of their tightly controlled electrical properties can be used safely in composite aircraft fuel tanks. 

The project was part funded by the UK National Aerospace Technology Exploitation Program (NATEP) and supported by Airbus Operations Ltd. The contributing partners were Technical Fibre Products (TFP), Element Materials Technology and ENL Ltd.


Composite Pipe for Aircraft Fuel Tank

The adoption of composite fuel pipe assemblies has the potential for weight savings over metallic equivalents however further weight and cost reductions are possible not only by optimizing the composite materials and manufacturing process, but also by introducing novel means of achieving the tightly controlled electrical properties. 

The materials and techniques developed for manufacturing the pipe assemblies have been chosen to enable automation of the process to allow efficient mass production. A static and fatigue test program has demonstrated that thin wall composite pipes with conductive injection molded end-fittings can easily withstand internal and external pressure load cases and are highly resistant to impact damage and fatigue cycles.

Pete Eckersall, Vice President and Managing Director for Tods Aerospace, said, “Tods Aerospace strives to be a major contributor to advancing composite technology and we are very proud of this accomplishment as it speaks to the ability and innovation of our hardworking team.”

NATEP is a £40 million technology development program derived from a bid by the Aerospace Growth Partnership to the Government’s Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative. The goal of the program is to mature undeveloped aerospace technologies and increase manufacturing jobs in the U.K. 

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