Clamping forces of the B-axis allow the use of damped boring bars with a diameter-length ratio of up to 1:14. A separate magazine is available for heavy ID-machining tools up to 5ft and 320 lb.

Since 2003, when the last Concorde was withdrawn from service, there has been no commercial supersonic transport (SST) to whisk well-to-do passengers across the Atlantic. That could change within a few years, as several companies – Aerion Corp. (, Boom Aerospace (, Spike Aerospace ( – are developing supersonic business-jets and 55-seat jetliners for transoceanic routes because supersonic flight is prohibited over the United States.

One SST effort hopes to find a way around the ban. NASA, in partnership with Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works, seeks to advance quiet supersonic technology (QueSST) that reduces the objectionable sonic footprint generated by surpassing the sound barrier. The goal is to reduce noise levels heard on the ground from a boom as loud as a chainsaw (105dB) to a gentle bump no louder than a dishwasher (65dB). An acceptable noise level would allow the supersonic ban to be lifted, opening new markets over land and water with aircraft that can cut travel time in half.

Construction has started on the X-59 QueSST test aircraft, also known as the Low-Boom Flight Demonstrator ( Engineers have been working on preliminary designs for the X-59 since 2016, trying to minimize its noise signature.

I learned more about these efforts during an American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) distinguished lecture at the Ohio Aerospace Institute given by NASA Glenn Research Center’s Ray Castner, an aeronautical engineer specializing in propulsion (engine nozzles, specifically). I was surprised to learn that despite all the advances in computational analysis and airflow simulation, there is still a solid need for wind tunnel work. Castner and his team tested a stainless-steel model that filled NASA Glenn’s 8ft x 6ft supersonic wind tunnel to validate assumptions about air flow around the engine inlet. Positioning the engine above the wing distributes the shock wave, reducing sharp pressure changes that create loud sonic booms. Castner says that so many factors influence air flow – the fuselage, canards, wing, conventional and T-tail – that testing an inlet in isolation would not do. Only testing the complex aerodynamic shapes together would give meaningful results. The team tested 50 flight configurations and angles of attack for aerodynamics (some with flaps extended, rudder deflected) and two inlet designs, measured with 40 probes. The researchers discovered that small vanes – vortex generators – added to the fuselage aft of the canopy were critical to managing air flow into the engine inlet.

The team used computational analysis, but Castner emphasized, “The only way to get the integrated inlet effect was to use the wind tunnel.”

Test results from the single-engine X-59 may not apply directly to a twin-engine design necessary for commercial operations, but they are a start in finding a way to reduce prohibitive sonic booms to barely noticeable bumps and return SSTs to the skies. – Eric

Multi-spindle, 5-axis machine tools feature integrated robotic loading and unloading, plus vertical pallet storage for workpiece blanks and finished parts. The high-speed, high-precision machining centers, incorporated into plug-and-play manufacturing cells, decrease commissioning time.

The cells consist of dual-spindle SW BA 222 or BA WO2-22i machining centers and a 6-axis robot. Delivered as a crane-hook system for straight forward installation and setup, the robot is mounted overhead for increased freedom of motion and the pallet storage unit is set off to the side, allowing manual loading and unloading.

All mechanical connections – including coolant return, swarf conveyor, and electrical installation – are made before the cell leaves the factory.

The Zayer 30° head is smaller and lighter than the typical, boxy 5-axis twist head, improving flexibility, accuracy, and strength. Suitable for positioning and continuous applications, it can reach tight spots, including negative 30° angles.

The head can also return to its home position after an accidental crash, allowing the operator to resume work almost immediately. Available with the option of an electro spindle, the head can reach speeds up to 24,000rpm while producing the same force as that of a traditional 5-axis twist head.

It maintains its precision and cutting strength in the unclamped position, and the turning point of the cutting tool allows for more accuracy because it can adjust to the geometry of the surface being machined. The head is standard on Zayer bed, bridge, gantry mills, and traveling columns. Lagun Engineering is the U.S. representative of Zayer.

hyperMill 2018.2 CAM software includes enhancements for 3D milling and roughing. Automatic face extension, used during CAM programming, automatically extends selected milling surfaces, eliminating manual CAD work and improving corner cuts. Modules also support conical barrel cutters in addition to general and tangential cutters.

Programming ease and flexibility in defining special tools improve in 3D Optimized Roughing as the system recognizes and accounts for free tool geometries. Software can define different allowances and adapt the machining process accordingly. High-feed cutters have a special, easy-to-define cutting geometry, and hyperMill uses the free geometries of the cutting tool edge for calculation, simulation, and collision checking.

hyperCAD-S adds the ability to measure and record the distances between two shapes such as face models, solids, meshes, or stock. A V-sketch command simplifies changes to milling boundaries and turning contours by assigning geometric constraints to 2D contours. When individual contours are changed, the sketch is automatically updated using their dependencies.

Virtual electrode function for designing die-sinking electrodes creates electrode copies which are checked for collisions, and can be assigned new technology values or the values of the master electrodes. For easier analysis, the reference system and eroding position for each electrode copy are included in a report.

Mitsui Seiki marks 90 years; Northrop Grumman expands in Ohio, Utah; WFL Millturn acquires automation specialist FRAI.

Airbus SE has appointed Christian Scherer, 56, chief commercial officer (CCO), replacing Eric Schulz, who left the company for personal reasons. Scherer will report to Airbus CEO Tom Enders.

“With Christian Scherer, we see one of our most customer-focused leaders at the commercial helm of Airbus. I greatly value his international mindset, his strategic vision, and tremendous commercial expertise,” Enders said.

Scherer, CEO of regional aircraft manufacturer ATR (a joint venture of Airbus and Leonardo) since October 2016, held many senior management positions within the group. At Airbus, where he started his career in 1984, he was head of contracts, leasing markets; deputy head of sales; and head of strategy and future programs. At Airbus Defence and Space, Scherer headed marketing and sales.

Precision machine tool builder Mitsui Seiki celebrates its 90th anniversary this fall. The company offers expertise in machining hard metal aerospace parts in jet engines and structural components.

“Looking back on our history, the foundation of precision measurement – gage blocks – were among our first products,” said Robb Hudson, CEO of Mitsui Seiki USA Inc.

In 1928, the company manufactured measuring devices, including gage blocks and micrometers. By 1935, the company developed its first jig boring machine. Industrialists referred to it as Japan’s first mother machine because other machine tool builders used it to make their critical precision components. The company continues to design and build jig borers, jig grinders, 3-, 4-, and 5-axis CNC vertical and horizontal machining centers – including hybrid variations – and internal and external thread grinders.

Tetsuji Okuda, president of Mitsui Seiki Kogyo Co. Ltd. in Japan, looks upon this milestone anniversary as an opportunity to focus on internal reformation to continue to raise quality, productivity, and reduce lead times from the headquarters factory, located on the outskirts of Tokyo.

Northrop Grumman Corp. recently opened a new area of its Beavercreek, Ohio, facility, reaffirming its intent to add manufacturing jobs at the site to produce advanced aerospace and defense composite structures, including high-temperature composites for the U.S. military.

“Northrop Grumman has expanded our operations in Beavercreek and grown our aerospace workforce at this site by more than 50% since early 2017. This has been possible through the development of advanced technologies and innovation by our team, coupled with partnerships with the state of Ohio and the Greene County Community Improvement Corp.,” says Wendy Williams, vice president and general manager, aerospace structures, Northrop Grumman.

The company also added 30 new jobs in 2018 at its composites manufacturing facility in W. Valley City, Utah, with the goal of adding 100 total jobs during the next several years. The re-purposed 90,000ft2 facility will accommodate manufacturing programs using proprietary automated forming processes for high-rate production of dimensionally precise composite aerospace structures.

The Linz, Austria-based manufacturer of multifunctional machining centers, WFL Millturn Technologies, is acquiring FRAI Elektromaschinenbau GmbH, St. Konrad, Austria.

FRAI, founded in 1984, focuses on machine tool automation solutions, primarily gantry robots and cells with articulated robots.

The office and production will remain in St. Konrad. FRAI’s CEO and founder Friedrich Aitzetmüller will stay on for a smooth integration before he retires. WFL Millturn Technologies and FRAI already have a long-standing partnership.

“Automation solutions have a high importance to many of our customers or are in several cases a prerequisite for an order. We see this expansion of our automation competence and individual automation solutions as a significant success factor,” says Norbert Jungreithmayr, CEO of WFL Millturn Technologies.

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WFL employs more than 450 people worldwide, while FRAI has 35 employees.;

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