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COMPOSITE CREATIONS

 

Based in Leatherhead, Surrey, Starling Aerospace is a specialist in cabin refurbishment, fabricating new structures from composites and other materials, also repairing and refreshing existing fixtures.


Refurbishment mostly involves refinishing and repair, as Starling Aerospace’s Director, Steve Swift explains: “The major issue we encounter with composites is compliance with EASA and FAA flammability requirements, especially smoke and toxicity. It’s where we have particular expertise to re-cover without having to take a composite structure apart and retest the whole thing. There are EASA and FAA guidelines on how to test without destroying the structure, and we’ve developed the technology to do that.”


Starling prides itself on its ability to react quickly to customer requirements, a capability, according to Swift, based not only on keeping stocks of raw material but on its intellectual and industrial property. Starling has the tools and expertise to achieve just about anything in composites for an aircraft cabin.


Its latest acquisition, a five-axis CNC router, enables composites to be formed into complex curves. “The router contours and shapes components according to CAD data,” Swift says. “It creates a tool to the shape required, then the outer skin of the composite is laid, followed by the inner core and inner skin. Once it’s shaped to the tool, the part is ‘baked’ to become the solid shape. The shape is always slightly oversized, so once its baked, it goes back into the router for final trimming to size. The inserts for screws and fasteners then go into the compound curve shape so they can be accurately bonded.”

 

Starling’s cabin composites capability closely reflects the structures Dan Freeman identifies in Boeing’s new-breed airliners. Swift says Starling’s largest composite structures are full staterooms, including structurally critical composite bulkhead systems designed to withstand decompression, doors, cabinets, ceiling panels and modifications to the floor structure to incorporate blow-out panels.