Saab is presently involved in the CleanSky Smart Fixed Wing Aircraft (SFWA) project. This means developing and manufacturing an integrated Leading Edge and Upper Cover, i.e. a complete wingbox panel forming part of the port wing of the BLADE flight demonstrator.
The BLADE demonstrator, which is expected to validate Natural Laminar Flow (NLF) characteristics, involves several partners in Europe and is approaching the completion of final design reviews this year.
The challenging NLF surface quality requirementshave been achieved through Saab's novel design concept, the use of innovative materials and manufacturing processes. The development of future composites is spearheaded by a single cure composite panel. The tooling technology enables the composite parts, including the internal structure, to cure in one autoclave cycle. The most significant feature is the lack of bolts, fasteners, screws and nuts. In the test panel, there are non, resulting in a laminar flow.
Presently we are engaged in the next challenge. To enlargen the test piece into a larger panel, retaining similar tolerances and make it available for the test flight on an Airbus test aircraft in a couple of years. The large INVAR tool is under development and is expected to be manufactured later this year. The final panel will be delivered from Saab in mid 2014 for final assembly of the port wing.
It will be interesting to monitor how we overcome this challenge together with our partners within the framework programme.