Fit for a Flying Fort: The UK company manufacturing B-17 floor panels

B-17 Flying Fortress Sally B on the tarmac.
Sally B. Photo Credit: Steve Carter of B-17 Preservation

TRB Lightweight Structures has announced the successful manufacture of replacement balsa wood and aluminium floor panels as part of the B-17 Charitable Trust’s refurbishment of Sally B, Europe’s last remaining airworthy B-17 Flying Fortress aircraft.

TRB has led the way in the design and manufacture of lightweight panels and structures for over sixty years, including the production of numerous specialised sandwich panels for the aerospace industry.

As part of the ongoing restoration and upkeep of the Sally B, the aircraft’s radio room required replacement floor panels to allow it to meet relevant aerospace regulations and continue to fly.

Photo Credit: Steve Carter of B-17 Preservation

The trust therefore approached TRB – which had manufactured the previous flooring panels in 1987 – to provide like-for-like replacements.

The company was able to deliver high quality replacements that replicated the original sandwich panel design of aluminium skins over a balsa wood core, providing both the light weight and stiffness required for this unique aircraft.

Chris Cooper, Project Engineer at TRB Lightweight Structures, commented: “This was an exciting partnership for TRB.”

“Together, we have ensured the continued flight of the Sally B, based on the same panel construction method that we used in 1987, demonstrating our ability to offer customers tailored solutions to the problems they face.”

Photo Credit: Steve Carter of B-17 Preservation


Steve Carter, Deputy Chief Engineer at the B-17 Charitable Trust, added: “The B-17 is an iconic aircraft, and the Sally B has spent 47 years as a flying memorial to the US airmen who died during the Second World War.”

“Its preservation is a striking dedication to fallen airmen, and replacing the flooring in a way that kept the Sally B airworthy was of critical importance.”

“We valued partnering with TRB for the expertise of its engineers, who clearly understood our needs and offered a functional and neat solution.”

Photo Credit: Steve Carter of B-17 Preservation

About TRB Lightweight Structures

TRB Lightweight Structures (TRB) is a leading international manufacturing and engineering company, specialising in lightweight and durable composite products for a range of industries.

Since its formation in 1954, TRB has invested heavily in people, and has a team of over 130 experts to support its services across design, engineering, manufacturing and quality.

TRB’s cross-functional teams work closely with customers to tackle big challenges – reducing weight while improving performance, safety and durability.

The company prides itself on working with other businesses that take their carbon footprint seriously, and want to use more environmentally-friendly materials in their manufacturing processes.

By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 3 Min Read
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