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PEEK pipes provide weight savings in new Airbus

Article-PEEK pipes provide weight savings in new Airbus

Aircraft manufacturers are driven by the need to design the most lightweight and fuel-efficient aircraft possible while reducing overall manufacturing costs.

Aircraft manufacturers are driven by the need to design the most lightweight and fuel-efficient aircraft possible while reducing overall manufacturing costs. PFW Aerospace AG (Speyer, Germany), a world market leader in aerospace tubing systems, and Victrex (Thornton Cleveleys, UK) have developed a novel, Victrex PEEK polymer-based pipe system for the cargo drainage system on the Airbus A350 XWB that successfully addresses these twin goals.

Through the use of lightweight, thin-wall Victrex Pipe, the innovative pipe system is 33% lighter and is the first viable alternative to metal tubing introduced to the aerospace market according to the developers. Victrex will showcase the Airbus-qualified Victrex Pipes along with other solutions to replace metals and reduce weight in the design of commercial aircraft in booth #107 at the upcoming SAMPE Show in Baltimore, MD, May 21-24, 2012.

Plastic PEEK pipes slash weight by 60% versus metal in aircraft application.
“PFW Aerospace has been supplying metal tubing to the aerospace industry for nearly 100 years,” says Rupert Kästel, VP sales and marketing, PFW Aerospace AG. “Given the increasing demands to reduce weight, we needed to identify alternatives to metal. We worked closely with Victrex for more than three years involving them in every stage of the product development phase through to the qualification. Together, we have successfully delivered an alternative to metal tubing and a next-generation solution for commercial aircraft.”

PFW’s cargo drainage system consisted previously of metal tubing and connectors for draining condensed water from the cargo hold. The new Victrex  PEEK system includes both pipe and fittings.

A typical, straight 1-inch (2.54-cm) PEEK pipe with an outer diameter (OD) of 1 inch (2.54 cm) and 0.039-inch (0.099-cm) wall thickness weighs only 0.067 lb/ft (0.997 kg/m) without fittings, offering a weight reduction of up to 60% compared to an equivalent stainless steel pipe. “Victrex Pipes are robust, easy to install, have good vibration and dampening properties, and offer a high degree of design freedom with the ability to be bent and formed,” says Frank Schemm, European pipe market leader, Victrex Polymer Solutions. “It is exciting for us to now have Victrex formally recognized as a supplier of straight PEEK pipes offering engineers and designers in the aerospace industry another option to achieve weight savings while satisfying the most stringent safety, quality, and performance regulations.”

Because they are lightweight, durable, exceptionally strong, chemically resistant, and inherently flame retardant, Victrex PEEK polymers have been widely used in the aerospace industry for years.
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