GE News: Subsidiary AP&C Purchased New Land, GE Aviation Helping Airbus 3D Print Parts for RACER Aircraft

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L-R: City of Saint-Eustache Mayor Pierre Charron and AP&C President and CEO Alain Dupont

GE Additive‘s Canadian subsidiary, Advanced Powders & Coatings (AP&C), which produces and distributes metal powders for 3D printing, has been operating out of the Innopark Albatros in Saint-Eustache, Quebec since 2016. But last week, AP&C announced that it had purchased an additional piece of land at the location. This new location, just outside Montreal, is where the company will be concentrating its expansion activities in an effort to support its growth plans.

“We are thrilled to work with the dynamic Ville de Saint-Eustache team! Our firm is currently enjoying rapid growth and we need more space for our projects, along with a good location for drawing fresh talent. Innoparc Albatros meets both of these urgent needs,” said AP&C CEO Alain Dupont. “It is clear that AP&C’s future is right here in Québec and, in particular, Saint-Eustache!”

This past Friday at the Saint-Eustache Town Hall, Dupont and Saint-Eustache Mayor Pierre Charron concluded the sale of the new, almost 40,000 square meter plot in the presence of Town Clerk Mark Tourangeau and notary Jean-Luc Pagé. AP&C already employs roughly 100 people at its Allée du golf facility in the Innoparc Albatros business district, but with this new addition, the company will be able to increase the amount of high added-value jobs in the area.

“We are extremely proud that AP&C, the flagship of its industry, has decided to multiply its activities in Innoparc Albatros, thereby making big contributions to Saint-Eustache’s economy,” said Mayor Charron. “Innovation breeds more innovation and we are confident that AP&C’s increased presence will bring new businesses to our techno-park and encourage other hitech firms to come here.”

This new space will be a big help, as the company, which mainly serves the biomedical and aerospace sectors, distributes its powder products in over 40 nations.

But this expansion isn’t the only news GE is sharing. Speaking of aerospace, a new GE Reports has come out regarding the next-generation RACER helicopter hybrid by Airbus, which is the concept aircraft for the European Union’s Clean Sky 2 project.

“The future of flight is an ever-evolving topic ranging from new supersonic passenger jets to hybrid helicopter-like aircraft that fly more like a plane,” Yari M. Bovalino wrote in GE Reports.

“One recent example of such a flying machine is Airbus’ RACER.”

According to Airbus, the RACER, or “rapid and cost-effective rotorcraft,” can hit a cruising speed of over 400 km an hour, making it one of the fastest helicopters in the world. The RACER combines an airplane’s speed and distance capabilities with the helicopter’s versatility; i.e., it can take off and land vertically and also hover. This aircraft could bring about greener, faster, and less expensive air travel, which fits right in with the EU’s project goal of lowering the impact of aviation on the environment.

Over 600 entities in 27 countries are working together to develop more “environmentally benign” aircraft technology as part of the Clean Sky aviation banner. The goal is to lower nitrous oxide emissions by 80%, fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions by 50%, and external noise by 50%, when compared to their levels in the year 2000. Clean Sky is looking at the big picture to make a real difference, and working on things like improving wing aerodynamics.

The RACER has a body like a helicopter, with a large rotor on top, but rather than a tail rotor, it has two skeletal wings, each with a backwards-facing propeller. One wing moves clockwise while the other moves counterclockwise, and the propellors work with the RACER’s low-drag wings to help it pick up speed while also maintaining lift.

For a long time, aviation engineers have been looking for that special flight vehicle that’s fast, cost-effective, and agile at the same time…and it looks like the RACER is checking all of those boxes.

Tomasz Krysinski, head of research and innovation at Airbus Helicopters, said, “The RACER is 50 percent faster than a traditional helicopter, but has lower costs, and brings together several new technologies.”

In order to obtain the necessary technology to get the RACER flying, Airbus turned to England-based GE Aviation Integrated Systems and Avio Aero, an Italian GE Aviation company. The two are working on building the components and subsystems for the hybrid aircraft, such as the transmission system for the wing and rotor propellers and the RACER’s cradles, which connect the wings to the gearboxes.

While traditional helicopter cradles were made with heavy parts that had been pre-made and were not cost-effective, the RACER’s cradles will be made with 3D printed casting molds, which helped lower cost, part count, and weight.

 Paul Mandry, the engineering program leader for GE Aviation, said, “This is the first time we’ve ever designed such a complex cast component.”

The RACER also has some other new components that Airbus Helicopters and Avio Aero designed together, such as 3D printed heat exchangers for the transmission based on the experience that engineers gained while developing GE’s Catalyst engine. Because the craft is more lightweight, it will also save Airbus money on fuel costs over its lifetime, and will be much more environmentally friendly.

In order to take the RACER on its maiden flight in 2020, Airbus is planning to start assembling the first prototype later this year.

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