CESA wins a contract to participate in Embraer’s KC-390 program

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Jul 2, 2012

CESA will be responsible for the manufacture of the emergency ram air turbine actuation system on the Brazilian manufacturer’s new military airlifter, which will compete on the international market with the A400M. In order to comply with the development milestones under the program, the company will have the first functional units available within 10 months. Following their certification and validation they will be delivered to the customer in the fourth quarter of 2013.


Compañía Española de Sistemas Aeronáuticos (CESA), a leading European company in the field of hydromechanical actuation systems and cargo ramps and doors, has been awarded a new contract for the development, manufacture and subsequent service support of the actuation system for the emergency ram air turbine on Embraer’s new military airlifter, the KC-390. This new program is the latest military transport jet to be launched internationally by one of the world's leading manufacturers, the Brazilian company Embraer. The KC-390 will compete in the market with the A400M by

Airbus Military. This twin-engine jet-powered aircraft is being developed by Embraer together with the defense and aerospace industries of Chile, Argentina and Portugal. It has a payload of 26 tons (somewhat less than the 37 tons of the A400M) which makes it ideal for the needs and demands of the air forces of various countries.

CESA is participating in this program under a contract signed with Safran Power, a ubsidiary of the French Safran Group and its company Hispano-Suiza, which is responsible for the development of the complete Ram Air Turbine (RAT), including the electric power generador and blades and the RAT actuation system, in direct coordination with Embraer.

The RAT actuation system is a simple yet very important part of the aircraft, as it ensures supply of the minimum electricity necessary for emergency landings in the event of loss of the two jet engines and the Auxiliary Power Unit (APU).


CESA is participating in the project through an agreement with the French-based Safran Group, with whom it already worked on other programs such as the A400M and the A350 through its company Messier-Bugatti-Dowty

In an emergency flight situation, if all the aircraft's electrical Systems stop functioning, the RAT actuation system supplies auxiliary power to activate the arm which supports the RAT located in the Aircraft nose. This system also enables deployment and restowing of the turbine to carry out maintenance operations and initial adjustments to the system, and to ensure its correct functioning during periodic checks and training for pilots with extended RAT.

This new project will strengthen CESA’s relationship with Safran, one of the world's leading Tier One aerospace suppliers. On this occasion it will be working with a new company, Safran Power, following its previous cooperation with another Safran subsidiary, Messier-Bugatti-Dowty, to develop the landing gear actuators on the A400M and A350 programs.


Actuator, manifold and arrestor hook

The system being developed by CESA consists of an actuator to deploy the turbine; a manifold which hydraulically retracts the actuador to restow the RAT after ground maintenance operations; an arrestor hook to keep the actuator in the retracted position; and a hand pump integrated in the hydraulic manifold which includes a 38 cm long lever enabling manual activation of the manifold from the Aircraft cockpit.

The manifold protects the system from possible overpressure which may be generated due to the incorrect use of the manual lever and is designed to work with a nominal pressure of 1,000 psi. It also acts as an oil filter to eliminate the air in the system which may affect the opening operation. The final design for the system must comply with the additional requirements of enabling locking in partly extended positions, a necessary feature to ensure the correct calibration of the turbine blades. To comply with this new requirement, it will be necessary to drastically reduce the internal flow of the manifold by adding a highly complex spool valve.

The actuator is a dual-function device which is extended mechanically using a spring and is retracted hydraulically by applying pressure to the annular chamber from the manifold. It is locked in its extended position using a locking system which includes four segments positioned at a 90° angle. It is also equipped with shock absorbers to ensure smooth deployment of the RAT and minimize the force exerted on the supports.

Finally, the arrestor hook keeps the system stowed during flight and may be unlocked either mechanically by pressing a button or electrically using a solenoid. It will also have a safety pin which acts as a double locking method.

CESA has considerable experience with similar equipment as it is carrying out series manufacture of the arrestor hooks for various systems of the Eurofighter. However, the significant forces which must be borne by the RAT of the KC-390 have required the introduction of an innovative design for the different internal components. In particular, the forces acting upon the internal bearing and spring will require the design of a specific solenoid for this application which is currently unavailable on the market. To do so, a series of preliminary tests have been carried out to develop prototypes in order to validate the new device.

Under the agreement with Safran Power, in order to comply with the development milestones under the KC-390 program CESA will need to prepare the first functional units of the RAT actuator within 10 months for Iron Bird testing. CESA will begin with certification of the units parallel to their delivery for integration and system validation prior to the manufacture and assembly of the first aircraft, with the maiden flight of the aircraft scheduled for the first half of 2014. The completed parts will be delivered to Embraer in the fourth quarter of 2013, while series production is scheduled to start in 2015. The equipment supplied will have a useful life of 40 years, as is habitual for components used on military transport aircraft.