A new lightweight laminate material now being patented by GKN Aerospace Services company FPT Industries could cut as much as 50lb (22kg) from the dry weight of a typical long-endurance unmanned air vehicle (UAV).

"On a large UAV perhaps 70-80lb of dry weight is made up of conventional fuel bladders," says Graham Smith, senior sales engineer at FPT Industries (Hall 4, G16).

The company says its new material is thinner and lighter than current solutions such as polyurethane and nitrile rubber.

The weight saved can be converted into either an increased fuel load and thus longer endurance, or a more capable sensor payload.

The material is suitable for use at the very low temperatures encountered at high altitude, and can be moulded into the complex shapes needed to take advantage of the limited volume available within a UAV.

FPT says that fuel bladders ranging in size from a litre in capacity to over 6m in length are now being made of the material.

Source: Flight Daily News