WOOD DALE, Illinois, June 19, 2013 — Setting a milestone for in-flight safety, commercial aerospace and defense contractor AAR (NYSE: AIR) announces development of a Fire Resistant Container (FRC) that has proved capable of containing an onboard fire for up to six hours of flight. By partnering with DuPont, a leading science and innovation company, AAR was able to incorporate DuPont™ Kevlar® brand fiber and Nomex® XF flame barrier into the innovation, making it the lightest weight FRC on the market, up to 30 percent lighter than aluminum containers.
Positive testing of the main deck container incorporating DuPont™ Kevlar® and Nomex® XF has benefits for cargo carriers at heightened risk of experiencing onboard fires linked to hazardous materials, chemicals or lithium batteries.
“This is an improvement over other fire-resistant containers, which give pilots anywhere from 18 minutes to 4 hours to land an aircraft from the time smoke detectors go off,” said Hector Plaza, Vice President, The Americas, for Nordisk, the AAR subsidiary that collaborated with DuPont. “Our new product can provide the pilot up to six hours to land.”
The design breakthrough comes as AAR (Hall 3, Stand B117) and DuPont (Hall 3, Stand D20) showcase their broad capabilities, products and services in the U.S. Pavilion at the 50th International Paris Air Show at the Le Bourget Center June 17-23.
The results could set a new technical standard for in-flight fire containment.
“Regulatory agencies currently have no specification for certification of this type of product,” said William F. Weber, Vice President, DuPont Protection Technologies. “So we’re actually well ahead of the current standard in developing a product that reduces fire risk while also providing weight savings. These are two significant benefits for air cargo carriers.”
One type of fire-suppression system installed on cargo planes uses argon-based foam. If smoke is detected inside a cargo container, the system punctures the container and delivers the foam to extinguish the fire. A drawback is that carrying the argon on board adds weight, Plaza said.
The new FRC, which passed testing performed at Intertek, an independent third-party testing facility in San Antonio, Texas, is a main deck container designated with the airline industry code AAD, referring to its size and shape, which is over 485 cubic feet. Testing strictly measured fire containment, not blast resistance. Depending on the aircraft’s size, anywhere from 24 to 30 FRCs could fit inside the aircraft.
The National Safety Transportation Board, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Defense have been encouraging groups such as SAE International, a global association of engineers and technical experts in aerospace and other industries, as well as ISO, the International Organization for Standardization, to help develop fire-resistant containers for aircraft.
For more than 25 years, AAR subsidiary Nordisk has collaborated with DuPont on safety advancements for air cargo containers. The FRC is the latest in a series of innovations that have included Hardened Unit Load Devices (HULDs), developed in the aftermath of the Pan Am explosion over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988.
About AAR and Nordisk Aviation Products
Nordisk is a supplier of air cargo equipment (ULD) to the global commercial aviation industry. Based in Norway, Nordisk has facilities in Europe, Asia and the United States, and is used by almost every airline operating wide-bodied aircraft, enabling huge amounts of cargo and baggage to be transported safely and securely.
Containers from Nordisk’s TwinLite line are used by commercial airlines to efficiently store and transport cargo and luggage, and will support Jettainer’s customers Lufthansa and Etihad Airways.
AAR designs lightweight transport solutions that save on fuel costs and its advanced cargo loading systems help reduce manpower and the chance of injury.