June 28, 2013
By Jim Moore
A giant autoclave oven now occupies the Grand Forks, N.D., factory of Cirrus Aircraft, ready to bake the largest parts of the company’s composite aircraft—including the SF50 Vision jet the company hopes to begin testing for certification soon.
Cirrus announced June 27 that the massive machine had been delivered, following a building project required to house it. The 40-ton behemoth is 8.5 feet in diameter and 40 feet long, and allows Cirrus to complete large composite parts in-house.
Wing spars had previously been made by an out-of-state vendor, and the city loaned Cirrus $950,000 to help bring the work in house. The company expects to save millions, and create jobs with this new capability.
"We appreciate the ongoing support from the city of Grand Forks," Cirrus Vice President of Business Administration Bill King said in a news release. "They have partnered with Cirrus from the very beginning and their actions and support confirm their devotion to our continued success."
The massive autoclave pressurizes nitrogen to 125 psi during curing, compressing the composite layers for a stronger bond.
Collaboration between the German government, academia, and airplane manufacturers may make future aircraft cabins more protective of pilots and passengers. The Safety Box team plans to apply auto racing technology to general aviation.
A father and his 14-year-old son were helping another pilot ferry a newly purchased aircraft from California to their home field in Virginia. The three made an overnight stop in Albuquerque before flying on to Illinois for fuel. But shortly after they parked the aircraft in Marion, Ill., they were approached by as many as 18 uniformed and non-uniformed law enforcement officers who came running toward the airplane.
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