RAYTHEON USES VIPER SYSTEM FOR FUSELAGE

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ANAHEIM, CALIF. — Raytheon Co.'s aircraft subsidiary, headquartered in Wichita, Kan., has completed its first all-composite business jet fuselage using Cincinnati Milacron Inc.'s Viper fiber placement system.

Delivery of the six-passenger Premier I should begin in late 1998.

``They made the first fuselage within the last month,'' said Randy Kappesser, composites product manager for Cincinnati Milacron's advanced systems division in Cincinnati. ``It is [Raytheon's] intent that the fuselage on their aircraft will be fiber-placed.''

Those plans include the eight-passenger Hawker Horizon business jet, due in 2001 and expected to be built on the same placement machine.

For the $3.9 million Premier I, the computerized system placed one-eighth-inch-wide tows of carbon fiber and epoxy over mandrels to form the interior wall. Technicians overlaid Nomex honeycomb on the interior wall, and then the machine wrapped exterior skin tows.

Kappesser said Cincinnati Milacron has supplied a tape-laying system for the B-2 bomber and F-117 fighter, and he discussed other current uses of automated equipment at five sites.

He said Northrop Grumman Corp. is ``making 18 parts per shipset and wants to increase that number'' for the F-18 E/F fighter in El Segundo, Calif. A Boeing Co. unit in Philadelphia makes nine parts per shipset for the V-22 helicopter, and a Boeing plant in Frederickson, Wash., produces six different tail skins per shipset for the 777 commercial jet using five tape-laying machines. A sixth is on order.

Construcciones Aeronauticas SA of Spain and Aerostructures Corp. in Nashville, Tenn., lay tape for the long-range A330 and A340 aircraft of European consortium Airbus Industrie. Also, CASA lays tape for its own aircraft.

The Viper system costs about $4 million, but upgrades such as a material cooling system and interleaf system are ``driving the price upward and not downward,'' Kappesser said.

Worldwide, Milacron ``has installed nearly 40 machines for fiber placement and tape laying — our closest competition may have about a third of that,'' he said. Kappesser made the comments Jan. 20 at the Composites Manufacturing Association conference in Anaheim. CMA is a unit of the Dearborn, Mich.-based Society of Manufacturing Engineers.