Anyone flying in an aircraft expects the doors to stay safely closed during the flight and also to allow adequate room during boarding and de-boarding. Additionally, in case of emergency, it should provide a quick route for escape. With these expectations from customers (passengers, airlines, or the aircraft manufacturers), the research and development team of Latécoère introduced the Next-generation Equipped Door (NexGED). NexGEN is an electric door that allows additional functions and performances superior to the classic mechanical door incorporated in today’s airliners.
The R&T project NexGEN, with the support of Dirección General de Aeronáutica Civil (DGAC), a French Civil Aviation Authority, a part of the French Ministry of Environment Energy and Sea and Direction générale de l’armement (DGA) the French Government Defense Procurement and Technology Agency, a part of the French Ministry of Defense, started investigations on electrical passenger doors. The other partners of this project are HUTCHINSON Aerospace, LISI Aerospace, SKF Aerospace, ZODIAC Aerospace, and UTC Aerospace System.
Components and Working of NexGEN:
The main components of NexGEN are a structure, a heating seal, an electrical motor, a locking mechanism, a hinge arm, a control unit, a power distribution unit, viewing mean: camera, screen, illuminator, an arming/disarming mechanism, a slide and a lining.
The control unit is the main unit of the NexGEN electric door. The power distribution unit is equipped with a lithium-iron-phosphate battery that provides the required power to the motors and other components. There is also a battery charge management system connected to the control unit of the door. The presence of a camera and a screen is one of the most-visible evolutions that may change the perception of external environment in the sky. The locking mechanism, along with the hinge arm, is used for arming and disarming the door in the aircraft.
The electrical motor executes two main sequences for the door opening operation, the first operation involves the lift movement for escaping the door from the fuselage stops, and the second operation involves a swivel movement to release the fuselage aperture. Both these sequences are controlled by a unique motor. This is aimed at making the opening of the door easy for users in critical situations of emergency evacuations, which is not possible in case of current mechanical doors.
Improved Safety of NexGEN:
For improving the safety, the power distribution unit reserves energy that is required by the door for surviving, in case of malfunction in the aircraft. To improve the visibility in emergency, the windows are replaced by camera and screen devices with an illuminator that allows a better vision at nights by infrared.
An innovative mechanism, like arming and disarming of the slide electrically with the use of linear actuators, has ensured a clear and safe passage during evacuation, which was not possible with traditional girt bar. The seal of the door has a heating filament incorporated in it, to prevent ice accretion on interface of fuselage door surfaces, which may lead to delay in opening of the door.
The control unit manages all the electrical equipment of the door and monitors different states of doors, thereby, allowing or prohibiting the user’s actions. It also takes input of different aircraft parameters and using visual and oral indications available, helps the user to operate the door correctly.
Due to developing electrical architecture in doors, the safety and operations of the door can be improved to better level. Companies, like Aernnova Aerospace SA, Hellenic Aerospace Industry, Saab AB, and Latécoère, Denel Aerostructures, among others, are working toward the development of such safe and compact doors.
About the Market
The Aircraft Door Market was valued at USD XX billion in 2017, and is expected to register a CAGR of 6% during the forecast period. Increasing demand for commercial and military aircraft and increased focus on maintenance and replacement of existing aircraft doors are the key factors for the growth of the aircraft door market.
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