Spectrum Aeronautical's Manufacturing Milestone
Developer of the all-carbon-composite, GE Honda HF 120 fanjet powered, nine-passenger S.40 Freedom, Spectrum Aeronautical said last week that its "Fuselage Manufacturing Demonstrator" (FMD) means it can deliver a revolutionary 40% weight savings over similar aluminum aircraft. The FMD is a full-scale, one-piece part made of co-cured composites in a proprietary process that joins major structural components "at the molecular level," according to the company. The process significantly reduces the need for the adhesive bonding required by many other composite fabrication processes and, being composite, eliminates nearly all secondary fasteners from the fuselage structure. That, says Spectrum, saves manufacturing time and airframe weight and helps put the company's performance goals to "cut fuel consumption by as much as half that of comparably sized metal aircraft" within reach. Using the King Air and Cessna Citation XLS as benchmarks, the company has said its smaller Independence Jet will burn half the fuel of the King Air while providing performance that closely matches the XLS. The larger Freedom is designed to carry a pilot and nine passengers in a six-foot cabin to cruise at altitudes up to 45,000 feet at speeds up to 442 knots and a range of 2,000 nautical miles. The company believes it, too, will compare very favorably against its more conventional competition.
The S.40's development has been delayed, due in part to the global economic slowdown, but Spectrum says it is making progress and maintains a comfortable (but unspecified) backlog of orders. Development of the FMD "is a real milestone for the program," according to Spectrum's president, Austin Blue. Meanwhile, the aircraft's future powerplant, the GE Honda Aero Engines' HF 120 fanjet, entered final preparations for certification testing in mid-May. Engine tests are expected to continue into 2010.