AEC is working with Rolls-Royce to support the development of the Inner Stage Vane (ISV), Outer Guide Vane (OGV), and CIAM assemblies for the Rolls-Royce LiftFan®, used in the F-35B aircraft. The use of composites is critical for achieving both weight and fatigue performance requirements. In each of these assemblies, AEC has been responsible for fabricating individual composite components, building the entire assembly, and in some cases developing manufacturing methodologies that enable the F-35B's Short Take-Off Vertical Landing (STOVL) lift system technology to function as intended. For example, some component features require extremely tight fabrication tolerances in order for the overall assembly to produce the intended flow behaviors through the STOVL lift system. Without meeting these tolerances, the resultant flow patterns, which are critical craft performance, will not be produced.
The parts produced by AEC use a combination of molding and composite production technologies: Resin Transfer Molding (RTM), autoclave curing, and compression molding. They also use a combination of 3D woven, 2D laminated and chopped fiber preform reinforcements.