BAE Systems has refuted claims that major structural problems had been discovered in the Eurofighter's fin, which would necessitate a significant redesign.


The company insists the aircraft's basic fin structure is entirely sound, and says the problem affects only a small area of carbon-fibre skin close to the fin root.

The problem has apparently been caused by a manufacturing software error which led to layers of composite material being laid at slightly the wrong angles to each other, compromising the structural strength of the fin skin.

The problem affects the three instrumented production aircraft (IPA), though they are able to continue flying with a slightly restricted envelope.

As the aircraft are used principally for avionics testing, these restrictions will have little effect on their ability to fulfil their flight test responsibilities. The aircraft will have new fin skins fitted when convenient as will 11 further aircraft now in production.

The seven development aircraft, which carry out the bulk of the non-avionics test flying, are unaffected by the problem.

A BAE Systems spokesman said every aircraft handed over to a customer would have the new fin skins, and that rectification would not affect the planned revised in-service date of December 2002.

Nor will the problem affect Eurofighter's planned ceremony tomorrow when the Royal Air Force will officially adopt the name Typhoon. Weather and flight test duties permitting, IPA1 will land at Farnborough for the ceremony, and will be met by the Farnborough display aircraft (DA1, the first prototype).

Two more Warton-based Typhoons will fly past, making this the first public appearance by four Eurofighter Typhoons.

Source: Flight Daily News