Launch of the Apulia Repair Development Centre for Additive Repairs
Bari, 18 November 2016 – Avio Aero – a GE Aviation business active in the design, manufacture and maintenance of aviation engines – and the Bari Polytechnic, today opened the Apulia Repair Development Centre For Additive Repairs, the first laboratory in Italy created for experts, researchers and young post-graduates whose mission will be to develop innovative repair procedures for aviation engine components, employing technologies based on systems of laser deposition and cold spray.
The centre has been created specifically in order to identify, develop and experiment on innovative repair processes. After the development phase, these repair processes can be implemented in the main repair stations present in Avio Aero plants, including that in Brindisi, dedicated to the assembly and maintenance of aviation engines. In 2017 the Apulia Repair Development Centre For Additive Repairs will focus mainly on turbine blades and on the lightweight alloy casings of accessory control boxes. The components involved in the research will come from various different engines, including the GE90, which drives the Boeing 777 and the GEnx, used on the 787 and 747-8 Dreamliners.
These activities constitute one of the objectives included in the Protocol of Agreement signed in March 2016 between Avio Aero, the Ministry of Economic Development and the Regions of Apulia (Puglia), Campania and Piedmont. They represent part of the 100 million Euros intended for Puglia to boost industrial research, experimental development and the innovation of manufacturing processes.
“At the end of 2015, there were roughly 50,000 aircraft for civil transport. Ten years from now there will be 70,000, which is 20,000 aircraft more – explains Giorgio Abrate, Avio Aero’s Head of Engineering. This represents a massive opportunity for us, but to make the most of it we must work more on engine maintenance... not only by replacing components, but also – increasingly – by improving our ability to repair them. This is why we have decided to focus on additive repair technology, creating this laboratory, the only one of its kind in Italy, devoted to highly sophisticated technological research and development in this field. This inauguration – continues Abrate– further boosts Avio Aero’s activities in Puglia, where we are present with an important plant in Brindisi which employs roughly 700 people. We can also count on the advanced engineering know-how generated through our ongoing collaboration with the Bari Polytechnic and the University of Salento, which have recently become part of the “Technology Development Community”... an innovative partnership model involving a group of 7 Universities recognised by Avio Aero as possessing specialist expertise of fundamental strategic importance for future challenges in aviation technologies”.
«A segment in vigorous expansion, such as the aerospace sector, broadens the professional opportunities open to our young talents – declared theRector of the Bari Polytechnic, Eugenio Di Sciascio. It is our duty, as the only Polytechnic in the south of Italy, not only to provide students with the best possible training but also to facilitate their entry into an increasingly competitive labour market. The mixed laboratory,where the public and private sectors exchange knowledge and skills, is an especially effective model in this sense. Avio Aero has confirmed itself as an invaluable partner for our goals, and the Polytechnic has confirmed its ability to collaborate with the most advanced industrial realities and to provide them with a decisive contribution in terms of research and innovation. An added value for a territory which - we are convinced - will continue, in an ecosystem-type perspective, to deserve the support of all those who believe in the common good."
“Only eight months have passed since the Protocol Agreement in which the Ministry of Economic Development and Avio Aero programmed investments in Puglia, Campania and Piedmont, and we have already launched this laboratory designed to experiment with extremely innovative processes”,
adds Puglia’s Regional Councillor for Economic Development, Loredana Capone.“This structure has been created thanks also to the Regional Government’s Programme Contracts incentives, and represents a shining achievement for Puglia and for Italy. We have achieved this through a process of integration between private business initiatives and public support of different kinds: in economic terms from the Puglia Region, and in innovative research terms from the Bari Polytechnic. This virtuous process will influence the development of Puglia’s aerospace sector for the next thirty years. Puglia’s share of Italy’s exports in this sector already amount to over 10%, but today we are opening a major new window onto the future.”
The two main technologies used in this laboratory will be Powder Fed Laser Deposition, in an inert atmosphere, for repairing components in TiAl alloy, and Cold Spray, a technology where the deposition of particles on the substrate, instead of taking place through fusion, is achieved through mechanical deformation, thanks to the elevated energy directed onto the metal base. This offers numerous advantages compared to conventional plasma sprays, above all its avoidance of any change in mechanical characteristics and the superficial heat treatment of components.
Avio Aero will devote a continuous supply of resources to this laboratory, devoted both to operational aspects and to the project’s technical coordination.
Furthermore, the nature of the partnership established means that the laboratory can count on highly qualified intellectual input from Professors in the Bari Polytechnic, who will supply the scientific support and know-how to power its research. The Polytechnic will also offer additional expertise from its Department of Mechanical Engineering.
INFORMATION on Avio Aero
Avio Aero is a GE Aviation business which operates in the design, manufacture and maintenance of propulsion systems for civil and military aviation. It is a Centre of Excellence for the entire General Electric Group in the field of mechanical transmission systems and low pressure turbine systems. It has over 4,100 employees in Italy, spread between the main site in Rivalta di Torino, which is also home to its largest productive plant, and the important facilities in Brindisi and Pomigliano d’Arco (Naples). It also has a major plant in Poland. Since 1908 – so for over a century now – the company has led the way in numerous technological challenges. Through continuous ongoing investments in research and development, and thanks to a consolidated network of contacts and relations with major international universities and research centres, Avio Aero has developed a degree of technological and manufacturing excellence which is acknowledged all over the world: an achievement confirmed by the partnerships signed with the main global actors in the aeronautical sector.