NCA&T Leads Partnership to Refit Helicopters
The Advanced Composite Research & Training Center at NC A&T has joined with a university spin-out company, Advaero Technologies, and a composite material manufacturing small business, VX Aerospace (Morganton, NC) to design, test and manufacture replacement drive shaft tunnel covers for the Navy's forty-year-old H-46 helicopter fleet stationed at Cherry Point, NC. The University-led team used the latest in composite materials technology to replace several components of the aircraft's outer skin, resulting in lower cost, lower weight and increased durability. The refitted helicopters are now back in service in Iraq.
The initial success of this program has prompted the Navy’s Fleet Readiness Center to approach NC A&T to address two of their most critical problems for combat helicopters: Improved resistance to small arms fire and improved nose section impact resistance. The first of these concerns is related to protection of the troops who are often ferried to and from combat zones in the H-46’s. The second deals with foreign object strikes, such as rocks or birds, that can disable the helicopter while landing or in flight.
The solution to both of these problems appears to be a combination of university research in vehicle armament and collaboration with yet another company, Innegrity. This firm has developed a specialty composite material that, when combined with the unique designs and manufacturing technology developed at NC A&T, results in at least a five-fold increase in impact resistance for the helicopter’s floor boards and nose section. Initial indications are that these improvements will be accompanied by lower weight, ease of replacement and higher performance of the re-engineered components.
For further information, please contact:
Director Outreach & Technology Transfer
North Carolina A&T State University
(336) 334-7995 ext. 2005