Ariane 5 Bulkhead Design Assessed for Airbus Airliners

March 08 (2021

An adapted version of a composite bulkhead that safeguards satellites during their ascent on the ESA-developed Ariane 5 launch vehicle has been tested for service aboard single aisle Airbus aircraft. Fitted in the rear tail cone, it would serve as a firewall to protect passengers in the event of the rear auxiliary power unit engine catching fire or the main cabin pressure bulkhead rupturing.

“The task of this bulkhead aboard Ariane 5 is to protect the satellite from the launcher exhaust, dust or overpressure from the launcher stage below it,” explains Marta Garcia Cosio of CITD.

“But the original version was a glass fiber cloth supported by massive aluminum rings and fasteners. It was very complicated to manipulate and integrate, so was seen as an opportunity for improvement. Accordingly we looked into the use of carbon-fiber reinforced polymer, CFRP – although new challenges appeared in turn.”

“This new CFRP firewall is a very promising revolutionary structural concept that will be considered for the next generation of aircraft,” states Javier Vazquez from Airbus’s research and technology team. This next step would include overpressure and fire testing, and consideration of manufacturing scale options. The bulkhead demonstrator was cast from automotive grade composite material, for instance rather than the more costly aeronautic grade material.

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