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Skyfly selects Norco to build fuselage, wings and composite components for its Axe eVTOL aircraft

Skyfly Press Release | December 16, 2022

Estimated reading time 4 minutes, 41 seconds.

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Skyfly has chosen Norco to build and manufacture the fuselage, wings and composite components for its Axe eVTOL aircraft. Skyfly Image
  • Skyfly has chosen Norco to build and manufacture the fuselage, wings and composite components of the Axe aircraft;
  • With the order now placed, Skyfly expects to have the first aircraft built by June 2023, which falls in line with their timelines;
  • Norco boasts 35 years of experience as a leading developer of lightweight composite structures and innovative GRP mouldings;
  • Norco’s operation covers six sites in the U.K. with an overall capacity of 130,000 sq. ft. and over 170 skilled workers;
  • Norco has experience providing lightweight composite structures for some of the world’s leading OEMs in the aerospace, defense and marine markets.

“We have been extremely impressed with Norco from our first initial contact to now running the project alongside them. It is refreshing to work with such a slick operation and knowing that we are in capable hands. The Norco team have years of experience to draw on which they have driven into the design for manufacture stages, examining every detail prior to the aircraft being signed off,” said Michael Thompson, CEO at Skyfly.

Skyfly aims to achieve a complete airframe weight of just 220 kilograms. This low weight structure is only achievable through the use of lightweight composite structures, which can retain the required crash proofing and structural strength needed. The aircraft fuselage consists of a main shell built in one piece with a nose and tail cone.

“The Skyfly Axe eVTOL fuselage main shell is built in one piece using resin infusion, which provides low void content lightweight mouldings at low cost. A sandwich structure and unidirectional carbon is used to reinforce the skin. The skin in the cockpit area uses hybrid carbon/aramid which improves impact resistance. The internal structure includes a tunnel which provides torsional stiffness and frames which distribute point loads (e.g., from the undercarriage and flying surfaces) into the structure. I have had a personally positive experience with Norco some years ago. Since then, their expertise and experience in lightweight composite aerostructures has developed greatly. We find them responsive, especially in DFM (design for manufacture), resulting in a better product at less cost,” said William Brooks, CTO at Skyfly.

Using this method of construction also allows for the low cost, accurate and reliable repeatability of our main structures, which is important when we progress into series production of the Axe.

“Norco are very excited to work with Skyfly in developing the Axe aircraft. UAM will see the largest growth in the civil aviation sector in the coming years, and its aircraft such as the Axe that will provide ground breaking capability. This aircraft will enable Norco to leverage its skills and capabilities in the manufacture of advanced composite structures. Norco have been involved in a number of UAM platforms and see the relationship with Skyfly as a natural progression in the development and manufacture of eVTOLs. Norco is a leading U.K. manufacturer of large composite structures. The company embraces the majority of composite processes from wet lay and resin infusion to high-end pre-preg mouldings. Norco has made major investments in equipment and facilities over recent years, providing a one-stop capability from tooling design and manufacture to paint finishing and assembly. Every project at Norco is supported by one of our engineering teams, who ensures projects are manufactured to cost, quality and schedule,” said Jason Hunt, project manager at Norco.

This press release was prepared and distributed by Skyfly.

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