Written by Kerryn Caulfield, Executive Director, Composites Australia Inc.
Innovaero is an Australian owned and operated aeronautical technology company that designs, certifies, maintains and manufactures equipment essential to aviation, aerospace operations and aircraft manufacturing from its facility just south of Perth, WA, and office in all major capitals. Founded by Mike von Bertouch in the mid-90s, Innovaero has generated significant local and export sales of sophisticated high resolution aerial imagery systems, and is an established world leader in this field.
Innovaero Group CEO, Simon Grosser, a past Composites Australia Board member, joined the company in 2018. “Our focus on product development in the highly regulated Aerospace industry, requires a multi-disciplinary approach to design and manufacture. We hold a very broad range of approvals from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) that enables us to develop leading edge products within the strict constraints of a highly regulated industry, including the necessary aircraft modifications.
Regarding materials selection, whether it’s metal, composite or plastics, it is critical to identify the most appropriate technology that matches the requirements for minimum weight, strength, stiffness, fatigue and, of course, cost. Composite manufacture introduces the additional consideration of processing, which ultimately affects the part’s properties, so it’s not just resin + fibre,” advised Grosser
“Quality and repeatability of process are critical factors to producing reliable parts. “We take advantage of advanced processing technology, including vacuum forming, wet layup, prepreg, automated fibre placement, and precision machining of engineering plastics and metals to ensure design criteria and performance are translated into the completed component,” said Grosser.
From a design perspective, Innovaero is a multi-CAD organisation with PTC Creo (mechanical design), Altium (electronic design) and VeSys (harness design), supported by ANSYS, LabView, MathCad and various other simulation and modelling tools.
Innovaero recently secured AS9100 International Quality Management Systems standard certification to complete its end-to-end service capability, issued by the International Aerospace Quality Group (IAQG). AS9100 covers design, certification, manufacture, maintenance and overhaul of mechanical, electrical, and electronic systems, products and components for the aviation industry. It will enable the company to extend into space and defence industries.
The Australian Defence sector is also transforming, strongly supported by the Commonwealth government. Policies have generated confidence for our local defence sectors to invest in their capabilities and capitalise on the opportunities this brings in helping to meet the needs of Defence and, ultimately, Australia’s national security.
“Advanced composite materials and processes have been fundamental in enabling weight and cost-savings in the aviation sector and are critical in Defence. While the early focus of our business was mainly land-based defence projects and general aviation, the research, design and testing effort around materials and manufacturing processes required facilities and skills directly applicable to Defence applications. Innovaero actively addresses these opportunities in Australia and internationally and expands operations to meet market demand,” Grosser said.
Earlier this year, Innovaero Technologies announced it had acquired Aviation Composites, with which it had had a lengthy working relationship. Based at Bibra Lake in WA, Aviation Composites is a fully CASA approved organisation under CASR 145 for airline and all GA aircraft and component repairs and parts manufacture of composites. Aviation Composites will continue to operate as an independent business of Innovaero
INNOVAERO’S AERIAL GEOSPATIAL IMAGERY SYSTEMS
Innovaero has designed and developed bespoke optic and sensor packages to enable wide coverage from a practical form factor, alongside a complex control system to integrate the levels of stability required for image clarity.
Carbon fibre structures provide the backbone for sophisticated scanning array camera systems. The PLC controlled structures move precisely and incrementally in rapid succession. Design and operational tolerances are extremely tight, in order to capture high resolution imagery without distortion.
High modulus/strength carbon fibre was identified as the material of choice, to achieve optimized structural performance in terms of stiffness, strength and vibration damping and ultimate lightweight.
Due to the extreme tolerances in design criteria, an automated process was developed inhouse for CNC precision fibre placement, resulting in carbon parts with consistent high quality and zero defects and repeatable properties in a low-medium rate production environment.
Innovaero also produces the monocoque composite (prepreg/carbon) camera pods, designed to be robust yet lightweight and with virtually no aerodynamic restrictions to the aircraft using them.
The final design allows the system to function reliably throughout the operation envelope, protected from the elements, and stable at all altitudes.
These two composite components demonstrate the versatility of Innovaero’s composite capabilities, as part of the overall system design, certification, manufacture, assembly, and installation.
AS9100 is the international Quality Management System standard for the Aviation, Space and Defense (AS&D) industry, created by the IAQG (the International Aerospace Quality Group), and AS9100 Rev D (2016) is the most recent version. The standard provides suppliers with requirements for creating and maintaining a comprehensive quality system for providing safe and reliable products to the ASD industry, as well as civil & military aviation requirements.