Panel Mods and FSW
On May 10, Eclipse provided an update on the Avio NG development. One milestone they identified stated that "All engineering for interior and mechanical aspects of the program are complete. This includes minor adjustments to display mounting on the instrument panel and the fitting and mounting of radios, transponders, and the digital audio panel located behind the PFDs and MFD."
The statement made me curious and I recalled seeing a bare fuselage and instrument panel at Oshkosh. A larger image of this display is available over at www.eclipsecritic.net.
The panel is interesting because it is machined out of a solid plate of aluminum. There is little room for any additional instrumentation and any significant change in configuration would mean a new machined panel.
Eclipse said the conversion to NG will only take a minor physical change to the panel and this part of the eventual upgrade won't be a particular problem. Additional black boxes and re-wiring may not be so easy however...
What caught my eye in the photo was the number of riveted joints vs the number of Friction Stir Welded components.
Remember, Eclipse claims their ability to deliver airplanes at higher rates and at lower costs then industry standards is due to their use of an enabling technology no other General Aviation manufacturer is using, Friction Stir Welding.
Yes, Eclipse is using FSW, but notice in the photo, the only welded joints in the photos are the curved frames welded to the light green colored outer skin. The same curved frames joined to the darker green colored skin are riveted as are all the longitudinal joints and the attachment of all the brackets for control systems and other equipment.
In this photo, one would be hard pressed to declare that FSW displaced much more than 5% of the conventional fasteners. The rest of the fuselage is not much different, I don't recall seeing any FSW in the horizontal or vertical. In the wing, only the longitudinal stringers are FSW according to reports.
It is amazing how the Eclipse hucksters can stand and proclaim their use of FSW gives them advantage over other conventional aircraft? It is all part of the charade, and this company has been perpetuating the myth since the beginning of the program.
Note: Photo courtesy of Bruce Leibowitz. Thanks from many.