Airbus, in partnership with sandwich core supplier EconCore, Germany’s Fraunhofer research institute, and the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), is working on a revolutionary new rudder for the Airbus A320 aircraft. The project, called EcoRudder, is part of the FASTER H2 initiative, funded by the European Union’s Clean Aviation Research Program under Horizon Europe and led by Airbus.
The EcoRudder project aims to develop a new generation rudder structure that is based on potentially recyclable thermoplastic materials. The partners will produce and evaluate thermoplastic honeycomb sandwich structures, which will be tested and analyzed to ensure they meet all requirements for certification in a structural aircraft component. The project will also include a detailed life-cycle analysis to confirm the reduced CO2 footprint of the new thermoplastic honeycomb sandwich rudder.
Composite sandwich construction has proven to be a very efficient structural concept in aircraft parts. However, the move towards sustainability means that conventional thermoset materials must be replaced by green composites. This improvement in sustainability must be achieved without compromising on mechanical requirements, such as damage tolerance under extreme environments and unintended loading scenarios.