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News

Titanium-composite aircraft seat passes EASA 16g crash tests

TenCate Advanced Composites : 23 March, 2014  (Application Story)
TenCate Advanced Composites has won the JEC 2014 Aircraft Interiors Innovation Award for the Titanium Seat by Expliseat and its partners TenCate Advanced Composites, RocTool, Hexcel and A&P Technology. The award was presented by Henk Kamp, the Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs.
Expliseat has developed 10 patents within the Titanium Seat allowing new design, use of composite and titanium in order to have an ultra-lightweight and reliable economy class seat. Designed for narrowbodies like the Boeing 737 and the Airbus A320 family, the titanium seat is offered as a three-seat row assembly. The part count has been reduced to 30, down from 500 for a conventional seat.
 
The Titanium Seat is the first composite aircraft seat to pass dynamic 16g crash tests  Expliseat has applied for a “design organization approval,” under EASA’s rules. According to the EASA, dynamic testing is key for a seat to be certified. Among other trials, the original seat, including seat belt, has to be tested dynamically with a specified load peak of 16g in the forward direction. The load peak in the downward direction should be 14g.
 
To combine simplicity and comfort, the fixed backrest has been “pre-reclined” by 18 degrees. It is just two-inches thick, its “technical textile” able to absorb shocks from the knees and fists of fellow passengers behind. Expliseat partnered with Iffstar, a French research centre specialising in transport technologies. As a result, the design of the seat back structure is said to reduce inter-vertebra shocks.
 
Featuring a composite-titanium structure and simple assembly, at four kilogram per passenger, the Titanium seat is claimed to be half the weight of alternatives, reducing fuel consumption for potential savings of 200,000 to 400,000 Euro per year per aircraft. In comparison, Recaro’s SL3510 seat - the lightest in the German manufacturer’s line - weighs around 9kg and also has a fixed “pre-reclined” position but includes a tray table.
 
TenCate worked closely with Expliseat's team to establish the best resin/fibre combination for optimal mechanical performance, while adhering to stringent FST requirements. TenCate Cetex TC1100 thermoplastic resin was chosen to be the most suitable for this application in combination with Hexcel's compatible HexTow AS4 12k high-strength fibre, passing the most demanding tests for seat structures.
 
The Titanium Seat development uses RocTool’s 3iTech technology, where inductor coils are directly integrated in a steel compression mould. The process can heat a mould up to 400C in several minutes or to 120C in several seconds to accelerate carbon composite part production. It was deployed to help design and manufacture composite structural seat parts, including tubes.
 
Expliseat has no factory and relies on various Toulouse-based firms that will put the seats together. Most parts come from French suppliers, the company said. It targets equipping 100 to 200 aircraft per year, starting this year. 
 
The Titanium Seat provides five major advantages:
  • Low weight due to its composite structure, resulting in fuel savings
  • Robustness with a subtle balance between composite and titanium
  • Industrial scalability using unique moulding technologies
  • Reliability with best-in-class composite materials.
  • Extra passenger comfort, since composite moulding provides complete design freedom.
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