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Aluminum investment casting for the A400M

A new aluminum part made by TITAL was qualified by Airbus for the military transporter A400M and is an industry benchmark for weight and strength optimization. The channel fitting is located in the landing gear-well and is connected to an actuator which opens and closes the wheel fairings for take-off and landing. The channel fitting and the connected kinematics for the wheel fairings are subject to substantial mechanical loads. TITAL produces the channel fitting from aluminum using the HERO Premium Casting® investment process. Prior to the final casting design the part went through a topological optimization process. This optimization process saves weight, cost and fuel. The part including all assembled components will be delivered to Airbus "ready for assembly". TITAL successfully passed many part and process certifications that are necessary to begin production.

The channel fitting decouples the load charge of the fuselage from the kinematics. "A load charge happens upon landing when the fuselage deforms during the landing shock", Thomas Stephan explains, Airbus Key-Account Manager at TITAL. For the first test aircrafts the channel fitting was machined from a forged aluminum block. During the test period the engineering team faced the challenge to find weight savings. Thanks to the topology optimization process - realized by ALTAIR Engineering as a subcontractor - Airbus and TITAL succeeded in producing the channel fitting from aluminum at a weight of only 44 lbs (20 kg). At TITAL this part - with dimensions of 47"x 16" x 16" (1,200 x 400 x 400 mm) – belongs to the larger aluminum investment castings. The investment casting is approximately 5% lighter than the machined parts. It was possible to equal the slightly lower strengths of the aluminum investment casting through a geometric optimization by means of so-called topologic processes. For this topology optimization the material is optimally spread along the lines of load within a defined space. In this case the OptiStruct software, developed by ALTAIR, supported this optimization. As a result, completely new geometries may arise which are very similar to bionic structures. At this point the investment casting clearly offers more design flexibility than a machined version and this increases the potential for cost and weight optimization for the aircraft.

In addition, the channel fitting is designed with the casting factor 1.0 thanks to TITAL's patented HERO-Premium-Casting® process.

TITAL delivers the bionically optimized part ready for assembly to Airbus. The channel fitting casting is fully machined, painted and includes 40 different mechanical components. TITAL procures the components to be assembled such as bushes, sheet metal parts, machined, and standard parts. The assembly work is done in Bestwig where it was necessary to qualify for the special assembly processes. Airbus audited and certified every single process for the channel fitting and TITAL successfully passed all 23 individual process qualifications for Airbus. Also the channel fitting was subject to destructive material tests. Berthold Busch, Head of Quality Management at TITAL, explains that test samples are taken from the actual casting and are tested for their mechanical properties. 10 samples are necessary to complete the testing and further destructive testing will be done at regular intervals during production phase.

With these new certifications TITAL expects to generate further orders. TITAL is progressing towards a higher level of vertical integration thanks to the additional finishing of the castings, i.e. the final mechanical finishing, surface treatments and the integration of assembled parts. The channel fitting is also a long-term project. Thomas Stephan says: "At the moment we believe these parts will be produced for many years." The engineer remarks that 174 A400M have been ordered by Germany, Spain, France, England, Turkey, Malaysia, Luxemburg, and Belgium. "Even if the German government does not purchase all the initially ordered aircrafts, we believe that many more aircrafts will be built. "

Press release issued by Alcoa Power and Propulsion TITAL on June 19, 2011


 Contact details from our directory:
Alcoa Power and Propulsion TITAL Engine Parts, Titanium, Metal & Alloy Castings, Aircraft Structural Components, Aluminium, Engine Pylons


 Related aircraft programs:
Airbus A400M


 Related directory sectors:
Structural Components

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