Bombardier wins MacRobert Award 2019

October 18, 2019 - United Kingdom

Bombardier has won the MacRobert Award 2019 for developing an innovative, resin-infused advanced composite aircraft wing, which currently flies on the Airbus A220. This is the only certified commercial aircraft wing designed and produced with resin transfer infusion (RTI) rather than pre-impregnated carbon fibre used on other aircraft programmes.

RTI allows for the manufacture of large, one-piece complex structures, reducing the requirement for many different parts and mechanical fasteners, resulting in significant material saving.

The use of dry fibre to create the structures and subsequent injection of liquid resin during the curing process also eliminates the need for refrigeration (as required for pre-impregnated carbon fibre), which means the materials remain usable for a longer time.

The A220 is the only aircraft purpose-built for the 100-150 seat market and entered service in 2016 as the Bombardier C Series. The extensive use of advanced composites in the wing helps to reduce weight by up to 10 per cent compared to a metallic wing and increases corrosion resistance, resulting in greater efficiency and easier maintenance. The weight savings help to reduce the aircraft’s fuel burn in flight, with an accompanying reduction of CO2 and NOx emissions.

The £520 million investment in Bombardier’s aircraft wing programme is the largest ever single inward investment in Northern Ireland and around 200 suppliers across the UK are directly providing to the programme with many more throughout the supply chain tiers.

The nominated team members are: Mark Braniff, head of Strategic Technology, Composites; David Patterson, engineering fellow, Aerostructures; Trevor Poots, former chief manufacturing and tooling engineer; David Riordan, engineering fellow, Engine Nacelle Design; and Sam Wilson, senior composites specialist.

MacRobert Award judge, Professor Ric Parker CBE FREng, said: “The Belfast-developed resin-infused composite wing epitomises the best in UK mechanical engineering, bringing together excellence in design, materials engineering and manufacturing technology. It is a key enabling technology for the Airbus A220 (previously Bombardier C Series), creating a unique combination of range, fuel efficiency and environmental friendliness for an aircraft in this size range, and justifying its huge forward order book.”