To maximise operational efficiency, British Airways maintains its fleet of aircraft in-house. One area that is receiving particular attention is the fabrication of replacement rigid hydraulic tubes. The hydraulic control systems of Boeing 787 and Airbus A380 aircraft operate at 5,000 psi, to allow use of smaller and lighter hydraulic components. Much of the interconnecting hydraulic pipework is manufactured from specialist aerospace materials such as titanium alloy, using thick tube walls to accommodate the high working pressures; a 25 mm hydraulic tube for an aileron actuator, for example, would typically have a wall thickness of 2.5 mm.
Unison supplied BA’s Heathrow-based aircraft Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility with a solution for fabricating precision tubular parts, based on two bending machines that are widely used in the aerospace industry; Evbend 1000, a semi-manual bender with CNC control and a Breeze 40 mm, a fully CNC all-electric model. This tailored solution provides quick and cost-effective repair of fluid lines on aircraft by reverse-engineering OEM parts and then recreating them in the workshop.
The loss of revenue resulting from the grounding of a modern aircraft can be astronomical, making fast-turnaround MRO capabilities vital to economic performance. The Unison solution means that British Airways can maximize operational efficiency of its in-house fleet maintenance.
Hydraulic tubes for Boeing 787 Dreamliners and Airbus A380 superjumbos, can be precisely fabricated from specialist aerospace materials such as titanium – without generating expensive scrap.
The MRO facility is now able to replicate tubes of many sizes up to 40 mm diameter in a range of materials from thin walled stainless steel through to thick-walled titanium alloy.
Right-first-time results. Unison’s unique laser-controlled springback measurement and correction system ensures bending precision by automatically compensating for the natural tendency of metal tubes to spring back slightly after being bent, eliminating unnecessary and expensive scrap.