Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Allegro LSA: Fly, She Said
All dressed up or ready to work, Allegro makes you honest
|Top LSA show how well composite technology can be brought into play
Composite technology has revolutionized aircraft design. Just take a look at the top 10 best-selling LSA in America: Eight are significantly or completely built with some form of fiberglass/foam sandwich construction. Cutting-edge aircraft designs use the method to bring multiple benefits over traditional sheet aluminum or frame/fabric construction methods: lighter weight; greater strength; simpler, more cost-effective prototype building; lower labor costs and the ability to make aerodynamically fluid and aesthetically graceful configurations. More recently, exotic Kevlar and carbon-fiber materials have dramatically added even more strength and reduced weight.
Composites are made in a variety of ways. One traditional approach is to “lay up” fiberglass cloth in a rigid mold, such as in the shape of one-half of a fuselage. The cloth is “wetted” with epoxy resin, shaped foam is put in place, then more cloth and resin are applied. The entire composite part is vacuum molded to squeeze out excess resin—and weight—then cured in a low-temperature oven. The end result is a glass-smooth, shapely, super-strong part that brings strength to the airframe at lower weight and with often stunning design and performance possibilities.
Flight Design CTLS: Flight Design’s CT line is the top-selling design in America. Their CTLS flagship makes use of carbon fiber and aramid in more than 90% of its construction, allowing significant weight gains without sacrificing strength and safety. Flight Design recently added all-composite amphibious (retractable-wheeled) floats to its list of CTLS options. The Clamar-designed construction not only brings much-desired water utility, but also provides a strong foundation for land-based operations.
Tecnam P2008: The luxurious Tecnam P2008 demonstrates how composites greatly enhance aesthetic beauty. The flowing lines of the fuselage derive a great deal of aesthetic perfection from the method, while the wing is traditionally built with aluminum, affording easier, cheaper repairs.
TL-2000 Sting S4: TL-2000 Sting S4 is the latest version of an all-composite design numbering more than 650 flying since 2000. The roomy bubble-canopied sportster makes excellent use of carbon fiber/foam/fiberglass construction to create a monocoque-style, ergonomically advanced, comfortable airplane.
SeaRey: Composites figure prominently in float and amphibious hull design as well. SeaRey’s lower fuselage hull, foredeck, turtledeck, wingtips and fin fairing are of foam/fiberglass construction, while traditional fabric-covered framework and sheet metal also are employed elsewhere, optimizing the advantages of each.
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