Australia's Co-operative Research Centre for Advanced Composite Structures (Composites CRC) and Eurocopter's Australian Aerospace subsidiary have begun planning a three-year helicopter composites research and development programme, writes Emma Kelly.

The A$10.3 million ($8.3 million) programme is expected to result in the creation of a "globally competitive hub for composite component design, manufacture and through-life support", say the partners. The programme is designed to lead to improved techniques to manufacture composite structures for helicopters novel and cost-effective repair and maintenance technologies for composite components and advanced design and construction capabilities.

Composites CRC has 25 members including businesses, government research laboratories and universities. The organisation previously focused on composites technology and processes for fixed-wing aircraft and many of its developments have been commercialised and are used in the aerospace industry.

Australian Aerospace, which operates an Asia-Pacific centre of excellence in Brisbane, is leading the programme. The company is investing A$15 million in a new composites manufacturing plant in Queensland to support production of Eurocopter Tiger armed reconnaissance helicopters and NH Industries MRH90 medium lift helicopters for the Australian Army. Both these helicopters make substantial use of composite materials.

Some A$5.4 million of funding is being provided by the Queensland state and Australian federal governments, with the remainder coming from industry and research partners.

Source: Flight International