Spirit AeroSystems, a wholly owned subsidiary of Spirit AeroSystems Holdings, has won the 2021 SME Excellence in Composites Manufacturing Award (Large Company) for its advanced composite wing spoiler program for the Airbus A320 aircraft family. The spoilers are produced using Spirit’s pioneering Resin Transfer Molding (RTM) technology at its Prestwick, UK facility.
Spirit leveraged its unmatched design-for-manufacturing expertise to redesign the A320 spoiler to a fully integrated, out-of-autoclave, single-shot RTM solution. The new spoiler production system delivers significantly improved manufacturing and cost efficiencies, including reduced energy consumption and material waste, compared to the previous hand laid-up, honeycomb core stiffened, and autoclave cured process. The elimination of multiple autoclave cure cycles means that production requires fewer tools and a shorter flow time, contributing to a more sustainable process.
By redesigning the product and production system in parallel, Spirit was able to evaluate alternate design architectures, material and process selections, tooling approaches, assembly solutions, and equipment configurations. The end result is a highly automated system, which is optimized across quality, rate, and cost.
“We are delighted to be recognized by SME for our excellence in composites manufacturing,” said Kevin Matthies, Senior Vice President, Chief Technology & Quality Officer, Spirit AeroSystems. “Spirit is continually seeking opportunities to provide superior quality products at competitive costs to our customers, while driving sustainability through our manufacturing processes. Key to the success of this particular challenge was the integration of the new product design, the new technology, the factory layout, and the digital transformation into a single, fully optimized, cleaner production system. Spirit is proud to join industry leaders previously honored by this award.”
The SME awards, which are international in scope, honor contributions of those who have excelled in manufacturing products from advanced composite materials. That excellence can include developing innovative tooling and/or production process techniques for the manufacture of products that have helped accelerate composites’ growth through superior service, quality or cost-reduction initiatives.