Helping Aircraft Floats Float Better
With a 50-year history of engineering and manufacturing aircraft ﬂoats, Wipaire, Inc. recognized the opportunity to enhance the performance of aluminum ﬂoats for the 10-seat Quest KODIAK. A rugged multimission utility plane that can carry both cargo and passengers and serve as an air ambulance, the KODIAK regularly takes off, ﬂies and lands in demanding and hostile conditions.
Like other amphibious aircraft, the KODIAK has ﬂoats with hatch covers that allow for inspection and must pass strict performance requirements. Since these hatches contribute to the aircraft’s overall weight, the lighter they are, the lighter the aircraft. And the more durable they are, the safer the pilot and passengers, the harsher the conditions the hatches can withstand and the easier the maintenance.
Wipaire engineers knew how and why lighter, stronger hatch covers would be better. They also knew to partner with PlastiComp to help make their vision a reality.
PlastiComp and Wipaire engineers and experts collaborated at every stage of the process, from design conception to mold-ﬂow analysis. With Wipaire using its own aluminum production to build the mold, PlastiComp contributed its deep experience, knowledge, long-glass reinforced thermoplastic composites and patented, proprietary technology to create structural ribs to make the hatch covers.
PlastiComp’s direct glass-mat thermoplastic process for the compression molding of the hatch covers proved to be a perfect approach to Wipaire’s need to replace metal parts with low- weight, higher-performing parts. The productive partnership was also efﬁcient; together, PlastiComp and Wipaire experts created the cover in a quick, 120-day period.
For Wipaire, the largest maker of aircraft ﬂoats globally, the partnership continues to be productive. The company will work with PlastiComp to develop covers for other aircraft hatches and will seek out additional opportunities to replace metal parts with plastic composites. Most importantly, since Wipaire manufactures highly specialized products for a niche audience, the responsive partnership it has developed with PlastiComp will help it grow and expand its programs efﬁciently and cost-effectively.
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