Middle River Aircraft Systems has taken an important role in one of the most rapid production ramp-ups in civil aviation history, significantly expanding its manufacturing capabilities to build thrust reverser and nacelle components for Airbus A320neo jetliners powered by CFM International LEAP-1A engines.
Working as a partner to Safran Nacelles – the French-based Tier-1 supplier for LEAP-1A nacelles – MRAS’ responsibility includes the thrust reverser’s transcowl and cascades (both produced with composite materials), the thrust reverser actuation system, and engine build-up hardware associated with integrating the nacelle to the LEAP-1A powerplant.
MRAS’ nacelle component production for LEAP-1A engines is to exceed
units annually from 2018 to meet Airbus’ output for the A320neo jetliner
This involved the acquisition of an automated fiber placement system for composite layup, along with expanding the company’s composite preparation area, and installing additional autoclaves for the processing of composite parts. Among the state-of-the-art machines brought into service at MRAS are two route & trim centers and two 6-axis drilling centers used to create the millions of holes for acoustic treatment on the transcowl inner walls.
Additionally, MRAS expanded its non-destructive testing capability for composite structures and instituted lean manufacturing processes for its transcowl production.
MRAS manages the supply chain for the other components it integrates into the LEAP-1A nacelle, ensuring the company achieves the targeted production rates, which are projected to exceed 500 units from 2018.