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The Dream of Flight

Impressions from the Farnborough International Airshow


People have been dreaming of flying since the early 19th century, when Albrecht Ludwig Berblinger became the first person in the world to build a functional glider in Ulm, Germany. Owing to poor weather conditions, his initial journey did not end so well, with Berblinger falling into a river – much to the crowd’s amusement. Around 100 years later, in 1903, the famous Wright brothers succeeded in building the first engine-powered aircraft and completed a sustained and controlled flight. This important invention ensured their names would go down in history.

Nowadays, the aerospace industry represents one of the fastest growing markets in the world. Each year, 3.8 billion people travel by airplane – equivalent to over half of the world’s population. And this trend continues to grow. The Farnborough International Airshow (FIA 2018), the world’s second biggest air show, celebrated this passion for flying with its special event from July 16 to 22, 2018. Altogether, around 150 of the newest aircraft models were on display. Over 80 000 visitors and over 1 500 exhibitors took part in the fair, located around 50 kilometers southwest of London.

Oerlikon at FIA 2018

Using its approach of “Making Aerospace Innovations Fly”, Oerlikon presented its aerospace technologies to OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturer) and suppliers alike. High-performance materials, surface technologies and additive manufacturing technologies play a key role in guaranteeing the functionality and performance of critical aircraft components:

  • Ceramic materials by Oerlikon Metco used as thermal barrier coatings protect aircraft engines and enable higher combustion temperatures. This increases the fuel and engine efficiency.
  • Oerlikon Metco’s thermal spray abradable coatings applied as clearance control solutions lower fuel consumption and emissions, increase engine safety and boost effciency by up to 5%.
  • Oerlikon Balzers’ PVD coatings protect compressor blades from erosion and corrosion, resulting in improved fuel efficiency and durability of parts.
  • Additive manufacturing technologies from Oerlikon AM enable complex engine components, structural parts and replacement parts to be manufactured with a lower weight and at significantly reduced life-cycle costs.
  • Aircraft engines and rocket nozzles become lighter and more powerful through combined application of Oerlikon’s high-performance materials, additive manufacturing and surface technologies.

All major aircraft engine manufacturers today use Oerlikon technologies to boost performance, improve safety and efficiency, and reduce emissions.

Oerlikon is collaborating with Lufthansa Technik and RUAG Space in the area of additive manufacturing

For Oerlikon, a particular highlight of the show was the signing of memoranda of understanding with Lufthansa Technik and RUAG Space respectively.

In collaboration with Lufthansa Technik, Oerlikon will develop replicable processes and standards of additive manufacturing for aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) applications.

In its collaboration with RUAG Space on the other hand, Oerlikon is looking to further advance the processes and standards of metal-based additive manufacturing for space travel. These standards should be suitable for application in the European space community.

Both partnerships represent a step further in the industrialization of additive manufacturing.

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