NASA taps industry to improve engines

MATERIALS Honeywell will test a stronger, lower-density turbine blade made from a NASA-patented superalloy in one of 38 new agreements under the US research agency's Innovative Partnerships Programme. Under another IPP project, Williams International will supply a small business jet engine for NASA Glenn Research Center to test the use of foam-metal acoustic liners to reduce turbofan noise.

CMCs could replace titanium in hot spots

COMPOSITES Environmental testing by the US Air Force Research Laboratory and Boeing has confirmed that ceramic matrix composites could be used in rocket engines and supersonic-combustion ramjet engines that operate at up to Mach 15. CMCs could also replace titanium on airliners if they are found to be lighter and cheaper to manufacture. AFRL demonstrated the materials could be used in heat shields that protect the aluminium struts used to hold turbine engines in place. On aircraft such as the Boeing 777 and C-17 these heat shields are titanium.

Airframe parachute will recover Italy's USV

SPLASH DOWN US company Ballistic Recovery Systems (BRS) is to provide an off-the-shelf airframe parachute for Italian aerospace research centre CIRA's balloon-dropped transonic flight tests of its USV unmanned space vehicle, scheduled for early 2008. Launched from an Italian air force base in Sardinia. The balloon will climb to an altitude of 24-40km (15-25 miles) then release the USV to execute a programmed trajectory. This will mimic the last part of a spacecraft re-entry, with transitions through supersonic, transonic and subsonic regimes. The BRS parachute system will deploy for a splashdown and subsequent recovery at sea.

Lockheed on FAST track to spaceplane health

MONITORING The US Air Force Research Laboratory has awarded Lockheed Martin a $14.1 million contract as part of its Fully Reusable Access to Space Technology (FAST) operationally responsive space airframe and structural health-management ground experiment. FAST will integrate work in structures, thermal-protection systems, adaptive guidance and control, health management and other subsystems into a set of ground experiments and the conceptual design of an X-vehicle flight demonstrator.

Spain plans to transform air transport

RESEARCH New aircraft and engine configurations will be investigated under Spain's €20 million ($29 million) OPENAER research project, led by Industrie de Turbo Propulsores. With 50% of the funding coming from the Spanish government, the project will include finding ways to "transform" the engine low-pressure turbine. The project started in July and lasts for four years. Bilbao based-Aeronautical Technologies Centre (CTA), which is investing €1 million in the project, says: "Different configurations of engine will be tested at CTA." Other OPENAER partners include Aido, Ideko, Inasmet, INTA, Laip, Lealde, Lortek, Mitsubishi, Robotiker, Sener and Tecnichapa.

Source: Flight International