Unidym, Inc, a majority-owned subsidiary of Arrowhead
Research Corporation, announced today the first flight of an
aircraft incorporating Unidym's carbon nanotubes into its airframe for
increased strength and flexibility to combat the effects of aerodynamic
stress and engine vibration. On April 11th Avalon Aviation's Giles
G-200 aircraft flew with Unidym's carbon nanotubes incorporated into
its carbon fiber composite engine cowling. The Giles G-200 is a high
performance, single engine fully aerobatic carbon composite aircraft.
AeroGraphics decorated Giles G-200 similar to the carbon nanotube aeroplane
High performance aerobatic aircraft are often the industry's
test bed for new airframe technology. They are generally subject to
increased levels of vibration and stress which typically induce
cracking in airframe components. Engine cowlings in particular must
endure significant engine vibration while simultaneously twisting and
constantly shifting with respect to the rest of the airframe during
aerobatic flight. A cowling experiences a variety of stresses from
increased G-force and gyroscopic forces as the aircraft is flown to the
limit of its performance envelope.
"We are delighted that Avalon Aviation decided to incorporate
Unidym's carbon nanotubes into this sophisticated, state-of-the-art
aircraft," noted Arthur Swift, Unidym's president and CEO. "For some
time now the aerospace industry has been looking into the structural
use of carbon nanotubes in high performance, composite airframes. To
our knowledge this successful flight is the first time carbon nanotubes
have actually been flown as part a major composite component of an
Avalon Aviation applied carbon nanotechnology to this problem
in order to increase the strength, while retaining flexibility, and
also to lower the density of the resin used in the cowling's carbon
fiber composite material. This weight reduction is a significant
secondary benefit as the Giles G-200 typically experiences between +10
and -10 times the force of gravity as it performs some of the most
difficult aerobatic maneuvers possible for a human piloted aircraft.
Avalon Aviation's Giles G-200 is flown by nationally recognized US
competitive aerobatics pilot, Greg Howard.
"We've applied Unidym's technology in a critical area of the
Giles G-200," said Greg Howard, Chief Pilot and co-owner of Avalon
Aviation. "We are constantly looking for ways to reduce any potential
composite failures due to vibration and other forms of stress. We are
excited about potential composite applications of carbon nanotechnology
and look forward to learning more from this initial application in
order to expand the use of nanotubes elsewhere in our aircraft."
Avalon Aviation's Giles G-200 will be flown in several major
air shows this year. It will also fly in a number of competitive
aerobatic events this summer and in the US National Aerobatic
Championships in September. Avalon Aviation will be providing technical
services this summer at the Advanced World Aerobatic Championship (www.AWAC2008.org)
and its Giles G-200 will be featured in the event's concluding,
international air show.