Advanced Technology & Research, Inc., brochure
ATR fabricates and molds airplane and other parts from composites. That’s a solution many parts manufacturers simply never thought of. This quarterly newsletter uses a challenge/solution format to show their inventiveness, and it credits its quality employees in every issue.

Click to read an article: Baggage pods for small jets. Prototype folding bicycle.
Helicopter flooring. Solar car body. Jet plane co-development with Honda. Meeting mil-specs.

Now, ATR repairs Jetstream 31/32
baggage pods to like-new status

ATR’s popular baggage pod for BAe Jetstream 31/32s still serves our customers very well – that is, unless you hit a deer or skid on the pod to cushion a landing. And while they’re rugged, even under normal use the earlier-built units nearing 10 years old are finally showing signs of age and wear.

Now ATR announces repair and refurbishment of these highly-practical baggage pods to bring them back to like-new status; to give customers many additional years of service, cost-efficiently. Repairs take about two weeks depending on the pod's condition, with materials and workmanship fully-backed by a one year warranty.

“We’re supporting our customers, offering this service to extend the life of the pod, structurally and esthetically,” said Bill Higgins, President, ATR. “Factory repair gives customers much higher quality than do-it-yourself patching, and greater cost-efficiency than pod replacement.”

From 1983 to 1992, ATR built more than 300 baggage pods for Jetstream 31/32s to add capacity and to carry odd-sized items like golf clubs and skis. The lightweight, sturdy pods are composed of ATR's Nomex® honeycomb and woven Kevlar®; graphite fabric impregnated with epoxy resin and woven fiberglass impregnated with phenolic resin.

Inner and outer laminate skins serve to line and cover the structure.

Normal damage takes its toll

Over the years, some damage is normal. The pod’s inside liners can get cracked, torn, and punctured by overloading. For minor repairs, ATR’s baggage pod manual tells qualified repair personnel how to patch small separations between the skins and core.

However, normal damage adds up. And not-so-normal incidents can occur. For example, one baggage pod hit a deer. Another pod suffered damage when the aircraft's landing gear would not engage. In that landing, the baggage pod protected the aircraft, resulting in just a little wing damage, but the pod’s outer laminate was scraped and the core damaged. (Please do not consider the baggage pod as a backup landing system!)

Aircraft owners can, of course, order a replacement baggage pod. But now ATR gives you an affordable alternative: factory repair.

Complete refurbishment service

When you return your baggage pod to ATR for repair, a team of specialists fully examines it. Inspection includes:

Upon completion of this examination, we give the customer a full, written report that documents the pod’s structural, cosmetic, and functional status. ATR engineers also outline the standard and non-standard repairs that the pod requires, and we estimate costs for your approval.

In a complete refurbishment:

ATR strips the pod of its diaphragm and all fittings, then washes and cleans the pod. We then lay up a new diaphragm and closeouts, along with manufacture of a new door, if necessary.

While we’re laying up and curing parts, we repair any small delaminations. ATR developed and perfected a proprietary adhesive injection process that simultaneously evacuates air and injects adhesive to fill voids. Using this patented injection process, we ensure a fully-filled cavity with total penetration of the area to be bonded. It builds structural integrity back into the part and results in a bond as good as new.

Repairing large delaminations

In repairing large delaminations, we take a mold and build a new skin. We remove the old skin around the damaged area and form the exposed edges into steps to accept the new, pre-cured skin accurately in position. We then place the new skin and fix it in position with adhesive. ATR gives outer skin repairs extra attention; we check to ensure continuity of the lightning strike mesh from the patch to the main pod skin.

We then bag the area and, to attain a firm bond, we keep the pod under a controlled-pressure vacuum during the curing process.

After repairing all delaminations, ATR loads the pod into a fixture that holds it securely by its aircraft attach-points. During this final stage, we refit the repaired door, or fit a new door and frame if necessary; and install the rebuilt latching mechanism. We also bond a new fire protection diaphragm into place and allow it to cure in the fixture.

We then refit the electrical system and check it for continuity and function; and carefully prepare all exterior surfaces and apply a coat of primer.

Then, finally, our FAA-licensed and certified inspectors and technicians inspect the pod to ensure that all work fully meets acceptable aircraft standards. We then ship the repaired pod back to you, primed and ready for you to apply top coat and reinstall the exterior bearings and seal supports.

In those cases where damage is limited to the pod door, you can send ATR the damaged door and we'll repair or replace it. ATR also offers door kits that allow your qualified repair personnel to replace a damaged door at your facilities. Both solutions eliminate the need to remove the pod.

For more information on giving your Jetstream 31/32s a new lease on life, to repair it to new function and esthetics, contact ATR at [phone number].

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Now cyclists can fold and stow
their bikes on the fly

Challenge: Re-engineer a metal bicycle to reduce weight by 30%. Ensure that the bicycle adapts to consumer requirements.

Satisfy the customer's goal to expand his share of the bicycle market while maintaining a competitive price.

Solution: Use aircraft technology and composite materials with automated manufacturing.

When a European bicycle manufacturer looked to ATR for a solution, he got more than he bargained for. He was seeking to expand his market. In response, he got the world ?s first composite folding bicycle, and ATR made it attractive to widely-varying markets.

"That's what happens when our researchers get a challenge, and a free hand at solving it," said Don Fetterhoff, Director of Research & Development. "We go the extra mile and surpass all expectations."

The R & D team combined the advantages of composite bicycles and folding bicycles into one ingenious vehicle. It's lightweight and convenient. And the composite frame accepts variously priced bicycle components, such as gear systems, shifting devices, hydraulic brakes, and accessories. So depending on the component set, a bicycle can sell for $600 to $2,100, a versatility that vastly expands the customer's market.

“The variables give consumers wide-ranging choice,” notes Peter Ballard, ATR Director of Marketing.

ATR’s R & D team started by using the customer ?s existing steel folding bicycle as a basic design, and replacing the metal frame with a carbon frame. That re-fabrication immediately reduced the bike’s total weight by one-third, from 30 to 20 pounds.

“It’s a good example of applying aerospace materials to commercial applications,” said Ballard.

The advantages of composite materials work well in tandem with the benefits of a folding bike. Measuring just 24" x 24" by 8" wide, ATR's prototype is roadworthy today, lightweight and compact enough to tote into restaurants and offices. That's a big benefit in Europe, where people use two-wheelers as transportation. It also easily fits in car trunks, buses, trains and airplane overhead bins. And for yacht and private aircraft owners, it serves as non-corrosive, stowable ground transportation.

The bike’s hinge points allow its components to fold in multiple directions. For example, the rear wheel wraps around and folds underneath the frame, and the frame folds in half, bringing the front wheel to the center. The handlebars rotate and fold sideways over the frame; and the seat post slides down through the rear section of the frame to lock the whole assembly together. It's all self-contained; there are no loose components to deal with, no special tools needed.

Unfolded, on the road, it's sturdy, dependable and fully functional.

“This is what we do for customers,” said Fetterhoff. “You give our researchers a task, they're innovative people, they"ll figure out a solution and more.”

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ATR awarded STC for economical flooring
for Huey Series Bell 205s

Challenge: Without technical specifications, develop a cost-efficient, non-corrosive composite flooring to fit Bell 204, 205, 212, and 412 helicopters to replace aluminum panels. Must meet or exceed FAA standards for a primary structure. Must meet and exceed Bell's technical specifications.

Solution: Measure and analyze existing panels and research the aircraft industry to develop specs and design.

ATR has earned another STC, which gives owners of Huey Series Bell 205 helicopters an economical alternative to aluminum flooring. And we did it with one arm tied behind our backs.

That“s because it took more than simple measuring to develop the composite flooring to compete with Bell 's aluminum replacement panels. It took deductive reasoning and a little help from our friends.

In the Huey Series helicopters, the floor panel is a primary structure, so it reacts flight loads. Supplemental Type Certification #xxxxxx from the FAA verifies that the floor panels are airworthy for Bell 205s. With some modifications, the STC will cover Huey Series 204, 212, and 412 helicopters as well.

It took more than reverse engineering to meet the challenge.

“We started from scratch. We didn't have Bell's floor panel requirements,” said Scott Meyer, ATR Senior Design Engineer, who designed the boards.

“Reverse engineering implies you know the end product and work backwards. We could measure and analyze the existing floor panels, but ours are composite, not aluminum,” he said.

"In this helicoper, the floor panel is a primary structure, so it reacts normal and emergency landing loads, wind loads — they 're all carried through the floor. So the floor panels have to carry the load pumped into the floor panels into a shear. We never had that information. We had to investigate what kind of loads the aircraft could pump into the panel," Meyer continued.

“So to determine that other 50% of data, we talked to other engineers and refurbishment houses. We asked pilots about landing conditions and learned that if a guy comes down on one (of the two) skids at a 3G load on right side, it induces a shear flow into the panel itself. We have an advantage, knowing so many engineers in the aircraft industry. We tapped everyone we know,” he said.

“Just one engineer can't do it. To piece together information, to do a robust design, it takes everyone pooling their personal resources together,” he said. “We defined the problem, then we solved it.”

Just like that.

The Huey Series, developed from the Bell 204, excels in search and rescue missions. It accommodates a crew of two or three, and carries a payload of 14 survivors or 6 litters, plus one attendant. Its model series includes the UH-1H Iroquois military, and twin-engine Bell 212 and four-blade 412.

Says Meyer, “If the customer drops things constantly, we can help them. If they're doing medical evacuation, the blood corrodes the panels terribly. And in off-shore drilling jobs, you see corrosion fast."

To develop a design, ATR chose the Bell 205 because "Its airframe is the grandfather of all those birds," said Meyer." The Bell 205 represents the worst case. It's the heaviest in gross weight, with the heaviest payload capability. It induces the worst case into your structure.

"For the others, then, the Bell 205 specifications will be more than adequate. Their airframe is the same shape as the 205. So the STC will grow to include the other models."

Adds Peter Ballard, ATR Director of Marketing, "An aluminum floor panel costs $3,000, but owners need to refurbish aluminum floor panels every six months or so, especially in salt water environments. Even simple refurbishment of aluminum costs $1,500-$2,000 panel," he said.

"The ATR composite flooring is an economical, one-time purchase that's competitively priced with refurbishment; with a lower per-board price for an 11-panel shipset. The flooring never corrodes, it won't deform with impact loads, its weight is good, and it meets or exceeds the capabilities of aluminum," Ballard explained.

ATR's composite floor panels consist of lightweight Nomex® phenolic core and a structural fiberglass skin with a tensile strength up to 500K psi. ATR also can modify the floors and hardware fittings, now that the comformity is established.

With this latest FAA certification, ATR holds 17 STCs and 8 patents for state-of-the-art composites serving the aircraft industry.

For more information on Huey Series helicopter floor panels, contact ATR at [phone number].

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ATR: the kingpin of solar car racing

Challenge: Reduce the weight of a composite solar racing car to gain a competitive edge while maintaining driver safety.

Solution: Use ATR 's lightweight, FAA-approved Panel Pin® system instead of conventional fasteners to secure the car's composite honeycomb panels.

ATR 's patented, revolutionary Panel Pin fastener was the best choice under the sun for the University of Missouri-Rolla students who competed in the Sunrayce ?95 solar car race in June, from Monument Circle in Indianapolis to Pike's Peak.

ATR donated the Panel Pins and adhesive system that secured the solar race car ?s body and chassis of composite honeycomb panels.

It was a win-win for both UMR and ATR customers.

Said Eileen Conway, sales coordinator, "ATR 's customers benefit when unique applications and new market opportunities spin off from the aerospace industry. Our Panel Pins played a critical role in the safety and light weight required in fabricating the solar car."

And according to the Solar Car Team, the students who designed and built the racer, "In order to be able to run a car at highway speeds, it is necessary for a solar car to use highly efficient techniques."

ATR got into the race when students specified its FAA-approved honeycomb fastener and epoxy adhesives, one of the most widely-used honeycomb panel fastening systems in the world.

For ATR 's aerospace industry customers, as it did for the solar car, the pins reduce finished part weight, and reduce labor and set up times. The resulting bond using this technology totally eliminate the need for brackets and clips. Threaded inserts provide an anchor for attaching other items to the panel.

ATR's Panel Pin system, introduced in 1982, revolutionized the joining of honeycomb panels and rendered conventional fasteners virtually obsolete.

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Technology transfer benefits Honda,
MSU and you

Participation in university R & D projects serves ATR customers by giving ATR greater experience in solving unusual design problems.

Challenge: To expand ATR's range of capabilities and experience in the international aerospace

Solution: Enter into a technology-sharing arrangement, and work as part of a multinational engineering team in a high-security research and development environment, to build an all-composite business jet.

In a successful three-year joint R & D program, ATR built the tools and fabricated primary structure parts for the MH-02 all-graphite composite experimental aircraft designed by Honda R & D, Japan, and verified by the Mississippi State University (MSU) Raspet Flight Research Laboratory. Honda initiated the project with MSU to research the use of composite materials in aircraft construction as a basis to design and construct lighter-weight automobiles. MSU contacted ATR for help with tooling and manufacturing of composite parts. It was part of an ongoing relationship between Honda, MSU and ATR.

ATR fabricated the wing spars, wing skins, pressurized fuselage halves and pressure bulkhead, and tail spars. Explains ATR President Bill Higgins: "It gave us an international perspective in engineering problem-solving, working in teams with Japanese engineers, for a non-U.S. customer. It also expanded our experience in an academic R & D environment. Moreover, our workforce gained first-hand experience in constructing an all-composite pressurized business jet from concept prototype to flight verification.

"These assets, beyond engineering skills, ATR shares with customers. We've gained an appreciation of cultural differences in the multinational engineering task force."

One-of-a-kind challenges

MSU gained access to ATR's knowledge of composite materials, the company's ability to forge large tools, and its large-scale equipment. According to Dr. George Bennett, director of the Raspet Lab, "We share a common goal with ATR, that is, to develop state-of-the-art technology solutions. They've been willing to work with us on complex, one-of-a-kind projects. We really appreciate that."

Honda learned about aircraft tooling and fabrication from ATR, the aerospace industry leader in composite material solutions. What's more, Honda learned the cost parameters of construction using composites, structural analysis and verification.

The auto manufacturer says it wanted to build the experimental aircraft because "Reduced vehicle weight is a continuing goal for all land, sea and air transportation modes ... Composite materials have shown the most promise, and the aerospace industry has the most advanced technology for weight reduction," according to the MH-02 research program abstract, co-authored by Dr. Bennett and Haruo Nakayama, Honda R & D Co., LTD, Wako Research Center, Japan.

Getting the project off the ground

The MH-02 research aircraft project first began in 1989. Honda was responsible for designing the configuration, aerodynamics, and structure; and for assembly, excluding the empennage (tail). ATR was responsible for manufacturing the parts. MSU was responsible for design and safety verification, and empennage fabrication.

Neither MSU nor Honda had experience in the twin turbo fan class aircraft and graphite autoclave-cure pre-preg material structure. So, the first research tasks were to locate experienced consultants and facilities. Additionally, the relatively inexperienced development groups wanted to learn about both conventional and composite aircraft structural technologies.

In satisfying the requirements of both groups, MSU selected ATR. Our role in the project was to build the female molds based on masters supplied by Honda R & D; and fabricate and autoclave-cure the parts, following Honda's designs.

Using simple structures

Composite fabrication allows the use of very large single pieces of structure and a lower part count, resulting in a cost-savings. However, curing those big parts requires an even bigger autoclave. For this project, the team would use ATR's large-scale bonding autoclave, which accommodates pieces of structure up to 8 feet wide and 35 feet long, in temperatures up to 600 degrees F, at pressures up to 150 psi. The autoclave enables greater compaction during the curing process.

MSU then assembled the cured parts and tested the aircraft in a specially-built annex to the Raspet Flight Research Laboratory. After exhaustive ground tests, the successful first flight rewarded their efforts.

And what did they learn?

Honda and MSU established their capability to fabricate aerospace-quality composite structures. They further determined that, in the near term, design requirements for an aircraft are so different from design requirements for ground vehicles, it's difficult to apply lessons learned in composite aircraft construction to weight reduction of ground vehicles.

And they concluded that, generally speaking, although it takes a lot of experience, a team with limited experience also can design, fabricate, test, and fly a fairly complex airplane by following a conservative development plan, a prudent schedule and a "Safety First" decision policy.

MSU and ATR first began working together in 1982, modifying an A38 Marble aircraft, the first all-fiberglass airplane ever built. In that project, the team rebuilt a new wing. ATR autoclaved the main spar structures, and gained experience in primary aircraft structures in the process. MSU and Honda worked together on unmanned vehicles prior to the MH-02 experiment.

Higgins noted that ATR s ongoing involvement with MSU yields experience with prototype projects, strengthening the company 's knowledge to more conceptual, experimental projects.

For more information, contact ATR at [phone number].

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To meet military standards
Who you gonna call?

Who do prime military aircraft contractors call for solutions in composite structure fabrication? The big guns call ATR for our expertise and fast turnaround. We excel in the design, verification, prototype and production of composite aircraft structures that meet military-defense standards. In fact, customers of all stripes come to ATR with their challenges in composite structure fabrication.

We make it easy for contractors to integrate composites into their aircraft, because we ?re the experts in designing composite parts for production, "explains David Humphries, Vice President and Director of Engineering.

ATR works with different contractors in different ways, however, "Early involvement really benefits manufacturers the most," says Humphries.

"It helps customers most when we serve as a resource on the design team. We go to their facility, listen to their ideas, share our knowledge, collaborate on solutions and go straight into designing a producible structure.

"Early involvement saves manufacturers time and money, particularly when it comes to highly-integrated structures," he notes.

ATR also converts non-composite parts blueprints very quickly. "Some customers hand us their original, metal fabrication drawings for existing structures, which we rework to take maximum advantage of composites. We can also look at a customer's current metal production and redesign from there."

Still other customers design a composite structure in-house then give ATR the drawings to assure it'll fly. We review and verify their design or suggest alternative engineering based on our experience.

ATR's turnkey expertise extends from design and substantiation (by analysis or testing or both) to fabricating the prototype article and building to print. We also design and construct our own production tools, which is another big plus for our military (and commercial) customers.

In recent months, ATR has worked with four contractors in manufacturing new defense aircraft and converting existing aircraft for special missions. Among ATR's solutions:

Conversion of floor panels from aluminum to composite, and fabrication of 20 to 30 shipsets, as part of Boeing Helicopter Co.'s project to convert the CH47 Chinook army workhorse helicopter to the new CH47D special mission aircraft

Says Humphries, "Military aircraft manufacturers already know that using composites results in structures that are lightweight, durable, easy to maintain and non-corrosive.

"But it takes special knowledge to redesign metal structures for fabrication in composite materials. We expedite the process and add value as a build to print outsource."

Virtually all prime military aircraft contractors have subcontracted to ATR for composite parts for original manufacturing and conversion programs. For more information on ATR capabilities, call Peter Ballard, Director of Marketing, at [phone number].

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