TAPAS - Thermoplastic composites for aircraft construction

The TAPAS torsion box demonstrator, representative for the load carrying box of an airliner flap or the tail of a business jet has been tested to possible failure at  the Dutch Aerospace Laboratories (NLR) on Tuesday July 24th. However, the demonstrator proofed to be that solid that even after maximum pressure it didn’t break down. This event marked the successful end of a certification test campaign. Fokker Aerostructures subcontracted and coordinated this test, carried out by NLR.

After impact damages, a fatigue program was run. Then, four different static load cases of 165% Limit Load were applied without damage to the composite structure. At high loads, local buckling of the skin between stiffeners was observed. This is meant to be and is part of the post-buckling design philosophy, whereby weight is reduced by allowing local buckling to occur. Next, severe (100 Joule) impacts were applied to locally damage the structure. The product was then again subjected to fatigue loads. No growth of the damages was observed. This can be seen as proof of the toughness of thermoplastic matrices.

The mission of the TAPAS project is to position Airbus and the Dutch thermoplastics cluster for next Airbus programs.  In TAPAS – the Thermoplastic Affordable Primary Aircraft Structure Consortium – Dutch industrial companies and research institutes work together with aircraft manufacturer Airbus. Together, the eight Dutch partners are commercially active in the Dutch aerospace industry and work closely with Airbus in the field of material-, production- and connection technology and design. The technology is targeted for future Airbus-developed applications, including primary structural components as fuselage and wings.