The UK Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has agreed to help fund a British Aerospace Airbus-led research project aimed at developing large composite primary structures, possibly for the outer wing section of the proposed Airbus A3XX large airliner.

The ú10 million ($16 million), three-year, second phase of the Affordable Manufacture of Composite Aircraft Primary Structures (AMCAPS) project will be 50%-funded by the DTI, with the balance from 13 industrial partners.

Subjects for study under the AMCAPSII programme, due to be completed by January 2000, include materials, manufacturing and tooling technology, components, assembly, analysis methods, cost analysis, factory modelling and non-destructive testing.

Composite materials are widely used in the existing family of Airbus airliners, for which BAe Airbus manufactures the wings, although their use is generally restricted to secondary structures such as fairings, flaps and cabin floors. The primary structures of the tail fins on the present range of Airbus models are already made from composites, however.

Jeff Jupp, director of engineering for BAe Airbus, says that for composite materials for large primary aircraft structures to become viable, "-it is necessary to find ways to produce a reliable, maintainable product at a price that is cost-effective".

Airbus is hoping to launch the A3XXby the end of 1998, with an entry-into-service date of 2003.

Source: Flight International