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Ariane 5 bulkhead design assessed for Airbus airliners

Written by  Sunday, 28 February 2021 10:07
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CFRP firewall tested for Airbus

An adapted version of a composite bulkhead that safeguards satellites during their ascent on the ESA-developed Ariane 5 launch vehicle has been tested for service aboard single aisle Airbus aircraft. Fitted in the rear tail cone, it would serve as a firewall to protect passengers in the event of the rear auxiliary power unit engine catching fire or the main cabin pressure bulkhead rupturing.

CFRP firewall tested for Airbus
CFRP firewall tested for Airbus

This next step would include overpressure and fire testing, and consideration of manufacturing scale options. The bulkhead demonstrator was cast from automotive grade composite material, for instance rather than the more costly aeronautic grade material.

“We did this to keep costs low, but Airbus said that maybe it is a good idea, and any operational version could be made the same way,” adds Marta. “Because the company is looking into reducing costs as well, and if the existing bulkhead meets all performance requirements, why not?”

Tommaso Ghidini, heading ESA’s Structures, Mechanisms and Materials Division, comments: “This is a great example of the kind of initiative that cuts across disciplines and industry sectors. By selecting just the right shape with the right materials, space engineers can combine form with function, to do more with less for our projects, and pass on enhanced efficiency to terrestrial sectors too.”

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