Since our beginning as an Aircraft Ground Power equipment leader, ITW GSE has emphasized the importance of providing technology that is thoughtfully and efficiently engineered to benefit the environment, the operators and the machines which they service. Even elements as simple as the canopy coverings for our 400 Hz GPU and 28 VDC GPU systems are manufactured to compliment the ever-changing requirements of the aviation industry.
Constructed from LLDPE (polyethylene) and developed by ITW GSE’s design engineer, Les Tindall, and the Global R&D Team, the canopies were inspired by customer feedback from extensive surveys. The evaluation helped set the principle design philosophy for the product – functionality, reliability, simplicity and cost. These fundamentals were incorporated to remedy specific customer concerns about corrosion, durability and ease of use. As a result, ITW GSE created a rugged, durable and weather-proof canopy that boasts both economical and safety advantages.
During the fabrication of the model, the primary intentions were to capitalize on the benefits of a free form construction. Keeping in mind draft angles, minimum radii and internal cavity volume, Tindall and the R&D Team crafted a canopy that delivered excellent thermal management for the engine compartment. A pre-prototype enclosure fashioned in plywood was built to collect airflow and temperature data. This enabled the team to validate the design before committing to capital expenditure for the tooling.
For the material and mold selection, Tindall and the team worked in concert with industry experts to ensure we employed state of the art technologies on the optimum molding process and post-molding treatment.
“For me, the most exciting part about this product is the simplicity of the build compared to our legacy products,” Lead R&D Engineer, Les Tindall conveys. “I particularly like the way the form of the components were used to develop strength and durability.”
Along with thermal management, the canopies cover and protect the engine, alternator, controls, batteries and cables without prohibiting accessibility. They are also able to withstand collision damage and chemical spills at operating temperatures and can resist UV light, ultimately maintaining its sleek appearance throughout its service life.
Not only do the canopies promote efficient operation, but they also cater to the service technicians. For instance, the entire canopy can be removed by hand in less than two minutes and all the maintenance points, like fuel, oil and water, are easily accessible. Built with a double skin layer that provides acoustic isolation, the canopy also keeps operations quiet, helping ensure a better working environment. Lastly, the canopy is designed with rounded edges that are safer for operators and reduce the risk of damaging aircraft or other vehicles and equipment.
ITW GSE’s canopies have now been used for five different models of 400 Hz and 28 VDC GPUs as well as new alternative fuel GPUs. This includes the 4400 400 Hz GPU, the 5400 gasoline 400 Hz GPU and the 6400 28 VDC GPU. “This is the first iteration and there is definitely room to develop the design further and improve the form and extend the range of use,” Tindall says.