Engineering military components, supporting soldiers
BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. -- Part of Aurora Flight Sciences Corp., Aurora WV, manufactures composite and metal subassemblies for manned and unmanned aircraft. The West Virginia company was recently awarded a project to produce the main rotor pylon for the Sikorsky Aircraft CH-53K heavy-lift military helicopter. Aurora WV also fabricates major subassemblies for the Global Hawk RQ-4B and metal and composite components for the EA-68 Prowler, the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye and other U.S. military aircraft.
“Since 9/11, a lot has changed in the aerospace business,” said Ron Richman, general manager. “Aurora has experienced increased demand for replacement parts for aging aircraft; demand for unmanned craft has really escalated.”
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) can be used for observation or force. “A squad in Iraq can use an unmanned craft to look ahead, scout out where they’re going. That reduces risk to our soldiers.”
UAV technology has evolved. “An unmanned craft used to need an operator on the ground to work the controls. Now the craft has a computer on board, programmed to carry out the mission. A data link to the troops lets them see what is going on. UAVs can weigh less than 50 pounds or more than 40,000 pounds.
“Some can fly for days and attain altitudes of 65,000 feet,” Richman said. “I’ve seen the Global Hawk Unmanned Aerial System produce pictures with details almost as fine as mouse tracks in the desert.”
Aurora WV’s 130 employees include mechanical engineers, technicians and tool and parts designers.
“When prospective customers visit our facility, they are surprised to see this small company in West Virginia with facilities, technology and work force as good as any in the world,” Richman said.
Aurora WV uses special software to integrate data and manage production planning. The facility covers almost 100,000 square feet, including a 10,000-square-foot clean room for composite lay-up, autoclaves with digital and analog control, computer data acquisition with bar code product scanning, Coordinate Measuring Machines and large component C-scan nondestructive inspection capability.