CESA wins a new project for the rudder actuator of the GRA

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Oct 1, 2012

The company will be responsible for the development of this system for the project of the new Green Regional Aircraft under the European Clean Sky program, which already involves participation by CESA under another project. Also cooperating in this initiative is the Andalusian company MDU, which will carry out design and manufacture of the control unit for the new electromechanical actuador"

CESA (Compañía Española de Sistemas Aeronáuticos) has tak­en a further step to consolidate its presence under the Clean Sky Program, the Joint Technology Initiative promoted by the European Union for the development and validation of new technolo­gies to achieve more efficient and sustainable aviation by 2020. This Spanish company, which is participating in various initiatives under the program, has been awarded a new project entitled E-RUDDER for the development, manufacture, flight testing and certification of an elec­tromechanical actuator for the primary flight control system, which will control the rudder of the Green Regional Aircraft (GRA).

CESA is also working on the ARMLIGHT initiative, another research project which also forms part of the GRA program involving develop­ment of an electromechanical actuator for the landing gear system of the new aircraft (see issue 22 of Aeronáutica Andaluza). CESA has ac­cordingly bolstered its presence under the GRA program and the Clean Sky project, one of the programs receiving the most European fund­ing in recent years for the development of new green technologies and processes in order to meet the objectives set by the Advisory Council for Aeronautics Research in Europe (ACARE).

CESA will be working on E-RUDDER together with the Italian manu­facturer Alenia-Aermacchi (Finmeccanica Group), which is in charge of Systems Technology for All Electrical Aircraft under the GRA program, and will determine the specifications for development of the actuator. These will be based on the current requirements for actuation of pri­mary flight controls for regional aircraft such as the ATR 42 and the ATR 72. According to the Spanish company, these requirements may easily be adapted to those of a possible aircraft to substitute these two mod­els which would incorporate the technological advances developed. These specifications will be jointly determined by CESA and Alenia-Aer­macchi, with the Spanish company offering its extensive experience on previous programs to develop electromechanical actuators.

After reaching agreement on the structure of the work packages under the project, CESA has already carried out conceptual design for the new rudder actuator. The company will now proceed with de­velopment of the detailed specifications of the agreement with Alenia- Aermacchi, along with establishment of the guidelines for the tests to be performed. According to the project schedule, within 13 months the first actuator prototype will be available for validation and ground test­ing, which needs to be completed prior to commencing the flight tests.

Andalusian presence

Although CESA is heading this work package under the GRA project, various other Spanish aerospace companies will also be cooperating. These include the Andalusian company MDU, which specializes in manufacture of electronic and on-board systems and will be designing and manufacturing the actuator control unit, along with its optimization with a view to its future integration on the aircraft.

The project also includes the development of a test bench to demon­strate the actuator's performance and for use during subsequent flight certification. The technological corporation Tecnalia will also be assist­ing MDU and CESA with the development of the actuator control unit.

The test phase will consist of three stages:

- Validation/assessment of the motor on the test bench specifically de­veloped by Tecnalia.

- Ground testing of the actuator in the “Copper Bird” of the GRA (a test bench that simulates the main aircraft systems).

- Flight testing by Alenia-Aermacchi. The actuator will then be installed together with the test bench or a simplified version of the same in the passenger cabin of an ATR 72. One of the main objectives of these tests is to evaluate the impact of the actuator on the aircraft's power generation system.

Synergies with other projects

This initiative will also have important synergies with other research and development projects which are currently being carried out by CESA in the field of electromechanical actuators, such as SINTONIA and PROSAVE2 (both of which are CENIT projects funded by the Cent­er for Industrial Technological Development) and ACTUATION 2015 (under the 7th Framework Program of the European Commission).

One of the most important aspects of these possible synergies is the potential for optimization of mechanical components, power electron­ics, the control unit, actuator health monitoring and power regeneration concepts. This will contribute to enable future aircraft to better exploit the power consumption/generation functions of electromechanical ac­tuators.