Eurocopter Deutschland has begun non-destructive testing (NDT) of what it says is the first lightweight composite aircraft door at its Donauwörth, Germany site.

The initial design is suitable for a business jet and was produced using injection moulding. Epoxy resin is injected into a single mould and forms a door with its beam, frames and external skin. Curing takes 2-3h.

Eurocopter Deutschland says that serially produced passenger aircraft doors could weigh 30% less than conventional aluminium doors. "The weight saving is actually much greater than 30%, but when you add the metal components it needs, the weight goes up," says the company.

The next stage of the research will examine how the door is integrated into the airframe, the NDT work, and static and dynamic tests. The door has been in development since 2001 under the €10 million ($12 million) full-barrel composite fuselage (Fubacomp) European research programme for business aircraft, which finishes next year.

One of Fubacomp's consortium of companies, Eurocopter, produces two-thirds of Airbus's airliner doors including those for the A380. The other programme participants are Alenia Aeronautica, BAE Systems and Dassault Aviation.

Source: Flight International