COMAC’s new commercial aircraft weighs lighter with Victrex Pipes

To improve the overall fuel efficiency and reliability of their new commercial aircraft platform, the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC), selected Victrex Pipes rather than metal tubing for use in high-voltage cable conduits. The new thermoplastic solution can deliver weight savings of up to 45% and is being supplied through the partnership of BeiJing FeiHang Jida Aviation Technology Co Ltd (Beijing Feihang) and Victrex, the leading global PAEK-based solutions provider.

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As COMAC continues to move towards the launch of their first commercial aircraft, they are focusing on innovation to achieve their vision of delivering safe, cost-effective, comfortable and environmentally-friendly civil aircraft. COMAC and Beijing Feihang engineers are working with Victrex to address these challenges. The VICTREX PEEK-based tubing surpassed airworthiness testing in China, which included maintaining operational performance under impact, loads, temperature variations and other environmental conditions. With the technical expertise and support of Victrex, the companies were able to design a lightweight, cost-effective high-voltage cable protection system within a much shorter development cycle.

Victrex technologies are viewed as an excellent alternative to traditional metal systems. The Victrex Pipes are typically used in the replacement of aluminium, titanium and stainless steel tubing systems. For this specific application, the Victrex PEEK-based tubing was tested and validated by COMAC, and achieved weight savings of up to 45% when compared with titanium equivalent tubing. This weight reduction can lead to both improved fuel efficiency and a reduction in CO2 emissions. The durable tubing system also serves as a shock absorber in the protection of the cables.

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Victrex, which has recently obtained the AS9100C/ISO9001:2008 aerospace certification, collaborated with the engineering teams to design a system that is able to take advantage of a much quicker manufacturing process, one that does not require machining or anti-corrosion treatments as metals would. By improving the development cycle time, the companies were able to reduce the total system costs.

VIictrex says that its PEEK solutions have been used in the Aerospace industry for more than 25 years. In many cases, engineers along the entire supply chain work together with Victrex to optimise the design of these systems as frequently they must fit into constrained spaces. Victrex Pipes are able to be bent, formed, and flared using heat and conventional tube bending equipment to meet strict interior design requirements and space limitations. Victrex also works with several customers on jointing technologies that allow the design of continuous systems.

The thermoplastic tubing delivers excellent fire/smoke/toxicity (FST) performance, and is very ductile and corrosion-resistant, as well as provides high dielectric strength, which is essential in high-voltage environments. These solutions are also being used in the Energy and Industrial sectors due to their ability to maintain durability in high-temperature, high-pressure and corrosive operating conditions. As well, the smooth inner bore of Victrex Pipes allows for an ease of flow, a key benefit in the case of fluid transportation.


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