With advanced aerostructures technology already in flight test on an unidentified high-speed military aircraft and ground tests of new low-noise, compact nacelle concepts underway, UTC Aerospace Systems (UTAS) believes it is well positioned to penetrate the nascent civil supersonic market.

The move comes as part of a broader UTAS focus on the business jet nacelle arena after more than a decade of wins in the commercial airliner business and follows the company’s recent selection by Dassault Aviation to provide the nacelle as part of an integrated propulsion system for the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW812-powered Falcon 6X.

At the forefront of this push are recently developed resin pressure molded (RPM) composite flight control surfaces, which UTAS say could provide supersonic, business and commercial operators with weight, cost and fuel-burn savings. “We have applied resin pressure molded technology to flight controls which are normally an aluminum fastened configuration,” says Gary Reynolds, business programs vice president for UTAS Aerostructures. The RPM controls are “much lighter, have no fasteners and are not prone to corrosion.”

RPM parts “are in pre-production leading to production starting next year for some more flight tests,” says Reynolds who adds that the lightweight material is also applicable for retrofit on existing platforms. However, given the high-speed regime of the first military application, the parts “would see the same flight profile and would be fantastic technology for a supersonic business jet application,” he adds. The RPM parts are 15% lighter than comparable parts.

UTAS is also developing next-generation acoustic technologies to help reduce noise inside and outside the cabin, as well as tighter packaging envelopes that enable higher bypass ratio engines to fit into smaller nacelles. Much of this technology has been tested and developed as part of the ecological integrated propulsion system (ecoIPS) demonstrator under the FAA’s second Continuous Lower Energy, Emissions and Noise program.

The low-drag acoustic liners, advanced composite materials and panels made using the company’s titanium liquid interface diffusion bonded forming process have all shown good results in ecoIPS says Reynolds. “For ultra-high bypass ratio engines we have seen up to a 50% skin friction reduction and up to 2 EPNdB of noise attenuation. The reduction in panel thickness allows for better packaging and lower fuel burn, which is good for the bizjet market, which is sensitive to range and both community and interior noise.” The forming process also enables fabrication of more complex shapes, which may be required for supersonic designs.