2011 has been a great year for NASHERO. Below you'll find all that we've been upto these last twelve months.
We'd closed the year 2010 with a jig for the internal structure of the master model (MM) of the fuselage. During this year we've developed other jigs and fixtures such as a very high precision surface plate that is 6m x 1.5m in dimension. This surface plate enables us to check alignments of precision components in a repeatable and reliable manner. In the future these jigs will allow us to build high precision aircraft, and composite structures much larger than what we have currently in development, enabling a growth path for our activities.
We now have a clean room of approximately 12m x 6m x 2.5m that is highly insulated with polyisocyanurate based aluminum faced boards and enables us to save considerable energy. The clean room is controlled by our self developed and programmed control system running a very special adaptive algorithm to keep it at a constant temperature and humidity. The clean room has an ante-room to allow putting on anti-static clean room overalls to enter the clean area. It is slightly pressurize by filtered air so that dust that is in the feet or body, gets pushed out of the enclosure. Due to high temperature wiring in the room, if we need to, in a crunch, the clean room can be heated upto a temperature of 70degC. It has a floor where we can wheel in all our large jigs with the parts on them.
Inside the clean room, we have run our controlled patent-pending vacuum infusion technology. The quality of our parts is consistently superior to those that we have seen from some production commercial aircraft parts. This is not surprising due to the vacuum infusion technology that we believe is better than what EADS has developed as VAP. We can also consistently get a very high fiber volume fraction with no internal defects, something that we only dreamed of in the past. This implies that the parts are lighter, tougher and stronger than regular hand-layup or prepreg-layup and vacuum bagging. This has enabled us to sample, test and qualify a resin that we believe will create extremely good parts for our aircraft.
By the summer and autumn of 2011 the fuselage, wings, horizontal stabilizer top surface and landing gear spring master models were finished. Their CAD designs were processed in a state of the art CAM program, and these were precision milled on our 4 axis large volume milling machine. The parts were surface coated with glass and epoxy and then vacuum bagged. The precision milled parts are beautiful to say the least. These were then covered with fairing compound of our own recipe based on epoxy, and were faired to perfection. At this moment, Dec 2011, we're waiting for materials that have been ordered to finish the master model to a mirror like finish. The finishing process is similar to that of high quality aircraft composite molds.
Certification documentation for FAR/CS23 certification was also finished. Although the first aircraft will not be subject to FAR/CS certification, we hope that the customers will appreciate our rigorous efforts that meet or exceed the CS norms in each area that is applicable to aircraft of this weight class. All our calculations have been performed using NEi-NASTRAN
software and a FEMAP pre-post processor from one of our earlier vendors and supporters.
Backlash from the Italian Economic Crisis of 2011, an opinion:
Before using any product in our process, we do thorough testing and qualification of that product. This is also the case for materials that are used to produce molds and to finish them. One of our vendors who had developed a special zero shrink resin, after a long process of R&D, closed down. We really feel for the people who worked there and now due to no fault of their's are jobless. This company was not bankrupt, instead, its owners who had other financial interests in the wake of the crisis, decided that it was financially better for them to shut down rather than stay open. They sent home all the people working for them, and did not inform their customers such as us. As a result when we were ready to place the large order for their tooling resins, the company had ceased operations! This has had a significant hit on us. As a fall back we're now qualifying and testing a new tooling resin.
Among many problems that small businesses have to deal with in Italy, the biggest hits come from the red-tape-ism, bureaucracy, and corruption. The working capital of most companies that we've encountered is a loan from the banks. This has an immediate impact of the 6-10% on their profits reducing their already thinned down margins. They pay more than 50% in taxes on salaries to the Government, of which a negligible amount is seen in services or infrastructure that could either enhance their efficiency or reduce their costs. Therefore, the workers in a company are negatively impacted with low salaries, which directly feeds corruption. Furthermore, lower profits and meeting short term goals have prevented companies from expanding with innovative technologies and products. The lower quality of innovation is seen in most family owned and small businesses. Newer and innovative up-start companies are treated the same way as a larger company, thus snow-balling the resource needs that should have initially seeded innovation and are now required to keep the squeaking-old wheel of bureaucracy running.
Few more encounters with the Italian Bureaucracy
As you may remember from our post of the last year that in 2010 we had taken a significant hit from the Italian bureaucracy, and perhaps we were a bit too early to announce that all was hunky-dory. The fact of the matter is that the Italian bureaucracy and red-tape-ism has not changed its face in the past 50 odd years. We have had regular visits from department of labor, taxes, police, all have different requests. Had the system been well designed redundant data, that each agency wanted, could be shared between departments that could reduce bureaucratic workload and would have had negligible impact on us, but that was not the case. The system treats a 2-5 person company as it would treat any larger company, the complexity of regulations here is so high that in the Italian system there is a huge market for books that write about how to interpret the other how-to's about setting up of new companies here. Anyhow, all this does not help us and is just another drag to the progress, soaking up precious and limited resources of time and money. The recent changes in Italian politics promise easing of the bureaucratic burden on the companies and we're hoping for the best.
The bureaucracy forced the company founder to attend courses on safety, fire-hazzards, and first-aid. For instance, based on feedback after attending the course on fire-hazzard, we believe that the information could have been given in simple booklets rather than wasting time and money. A simple flow chart would better explain a company to assess risks and meet regulatory issues rather than force people to attend courses held in remote locations and privy of significantly useful material.
Well that was 2011. We're hoping for a test flight of our first aircraft, early in 2012 and wish that you'd be interested in staying updated of our progress.