AIC Group has been awarded a multi-million pound contract by UTC Aerospace Systems to custom-build the UK's first 18-foot diameter autoclave with advanced control systems.
The autoclave will enable UTC Aerospace Systems’ Prestwick Scotland facility to maintain, repair and overhaul larger nacelles systems fitted to the next generation of wide-bodied aircraft.
Due to be operational by the end of 2015, the autoclave will run on AIC’s Autoclave Management and Control System (AMCS) which reportedly provides significant production efficiencies and energy savings as well as aerospace compliant QA reports. The autoclave will be maintained by AIC in a 10-year programme which includes its 24/7 technical support.
Nigel Clifford, AIC’s head of sales, commented: “The contract is the result of many months of collaborative working between AIC and UTC Aerospace Systems. We listened carefully to what UTC required and they took the time to understand the benefits of key features of the autoclave, its controls and sub-systems.
“We jointly investigated different configurations, potential cost savings and delivery logistics. Ultimately, we arrived at a carefully specified, high-quality solution that will deliver exceptional performance, increased reliability, energy savings and lower environmental impact.”
Steve Callan, managing director of UTC Aerospace Systems – Aerostructures Prestwick Service Centre, added: “We are committed to maintaining the high quality capabilities and services our customers expect. This new autoclave better positions us to be a leader in the new large engine nacelle products that have begun entering the market. It further demonstrates our dedication to meeting our customers’ requirements and supporting them into the future.”
The large autoclave will be delivered to the site in sections after being hydrotested and joined using a so-called ‘golden weld’ which is 100% radiographic tested. AMCS will deliver ultimate control utilising AIC’s leading software and the latest PLC hardware.
AIC’s advanced water cooling system will deliver cooling with minimal environmental impact, significantly lowering chemical use, realising lower running cost, energy savings and waste disposal savings whilst contributing to UTC Aerospace Systems sustainability policy.
The autoclave features AIC’s balanced system controlled by AMCS to deliver very accurate vacuum levels and is constructed of stainless steel lines, seamlessly welded using high accuracy welding and helium leak detection equipment. A hot bonder is also integrated for spot repairs.