Improved Airplane Interior Sidewall Panels

C&D Zodiac, a division of Zodiac Aerospace, manufactures airplane interior sidewall panels. Their current panels have minimal insulating properties so they rely on insulating blankets between the panels and the airframe to provide thermal and acoustic insulation. C&D Zodiac’s current seam between panels is only a thin plastic strip so the customer does not see the insulating blanket. The strip also accommodates tolerance issues with the panels. The seam in the current system is very poor at insulating even with a blanket behind it. Customers can feel drafts and hear noise through the seam. C&D Zodiac wants to make passengers more comfortable by reducing noise levels and improving the thermal insulation and is designing new panels to accomplish this.

Team AeroShield has produced a design that meets all of the sponsor’s needs.  A prototype of this design can be seen in the picture above to the right.  The R-value at the seam is now double with an increase of 7 dB in noise attenuation, as compared to the current design. AeroShield’s design includes having the panels overlap. A compliant, neoprene gasket will be attached to the edge to ensure a good seal between the panels, which have slightly different curvatures at each end to compress the gasket when closed. A slotted bracket is included on the backside of the panel which allows the panel to slide onto and rotate about a pin so that it mimics the motion of a door. Latches are included on the end opposite the pivot to keep the “door” shut. To remove the panel, the latches are opened by a magnetic tool.

Thanks to this improved design for airplane interior sidewall panels, engine and aerodynamic noises inside the cabin of the airplane will be greatly decreased, providing more comfort to passengers.  The improved thermal insulation of the panels will also decrease the amount of power needed to regulate the temperature of the cabin.  These added benefits will help C&D Zodiac to sell their panels to airplane manufacturers, such as Boeing.

School Year (term): 
C&D Zodiac
Team Name: 
Mike Ridges
Team Members: 
Matthew Bangerter, Christopher Brooks, Stephen Hills, Tyson Merrell, Jordan Payne

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