(19)
(11)EP 2 735 745 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
17.06.2020 Bulletin 2020/25

(21)Application number: 13193446.5

(22)Date of filing:  19.11.2013
(51)Int. Cl.: 
F16B 4/00  (2006.01)
B32B 37/14  (2006.01)
F16B 5/02  (2006.01)
B64D 37/32  (2006.01)

(54)

System comprising an aircraft component an aircraft object and an aircraft mounting assembly

System mit einer Flugzeugkomponente, einem Flugzeuggegenstand und einer Flugzeugmontagebaugruppe

Système comprenant un composant d'aéronef, un objet d'aéronef et un assemblage de montage d'un aéronef


(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR

(30)Priority: 26.11.2012 US 201213685524

(43)Date of publication of application:
28.05.2014 Bulletin 2014/22

(73)Proprietor: The Boeing Company
Chicago, IL 60606-1596 (US)

(72)Inventors:
  • Callahan, Kevin S
    Everett, WA 98203 (US)
  • Fisher, Robert Earl
    Seattle, WA 98124 (US)
  • Alvarado-Jr, Santiago
    Everett, WA 98204-1404 (US)

(74)Representative: Boult Wade Tennant LLP 
Salisbury Square House 8 Salisbury Square
London EC4Y 8AP
London EC4Y 8AP (GB)


(56)References cited: : 
EP-A2- 0 202 564
GB-A- 151 327
DE-A1- 19 943 373
US-A- 5 653 615
  
      
    Note: Within nine months from the publication of the mention of the grant of the European patent, any person may give notice to the European Patent Office of opposition to the European patent granted. Notice of opposition shall be filed in a written reasoned statement. It shall not be deemed to have been filed until the opposition fee has been paid. (Art. 99(1) European Patent Convention).


    Description

    FIELD



    [0001] The present disclosure relates generally to bushings and more specifically to electrically conductive bushings.

    BACKGROUND



    [0002] Bushings are used for a variety of purposes, and typically, a bushing is a hollow cylindrical component, such as a tube or sleeve, that may be used as a guide or spacer for various tools, fasteners, parts, etc. In some applications, a bushing may form a portion of a bearing assembly.

    [0003] In the aerospace industry, one application for bushings includes ensuring that components that extend through the wall of a fuel tank are sufficiently and electrically grounded to the wall of the fuel tank, so as to avoid sparking. In modern aircraft construction, in which airframes, including fuel tanks, are constructed of carbon fiber reinforced polymers, and when utilizing existing bushing technology, the holes that extend through the wall of a fuel tank and the bushings themselves that are press-fit into the holes are required to have very tight tolerances with respect to each other to ensure proper engagement between, and thus grounding of, the bushings and the wall of the fuel tank. The manufacturing costs associated with these tolerances are not insignificant.

    [0004] In United States Patent US5,653,615, there is described a large current male terminal constructed by forming a hollow cylindrical electric contact part on one end of a conductive pipe, a hollow cylindrical wire crimping part on the other end thereof, and a collar between the electric contact part and the wire crimping part. The electric contact part has a substantially conical nose and is formed by squeezing one end of the conductive pipe in such a manner that the diameter of the one end is gradually reduced frontward. The wire crimping part has such an inner diameter as to allow a wire to be inserted thereinto. The collar has a diameter larger than the other parts.

    [0005] In German Patent Application No: DE19943373, there is described a plug socket terminal having a cylindrical terminal body containing a cylindrical spring contact engaging an inserted rod-shaped plug terminal, fitted through an opening in a plastics resin cap, fitted into an enlarged diameter section at the end of the cylindrical terminal body, with an end face acting against the spring contact for holding it in the cylindrical terminal body.

    [0006] In European Patent EP0202564, there is described a contact device having at least two contact bodies and at least one laminar body. The laminar body has through slots separate blades having an arc-shaped central portion, which are formed as spatial curves. These fins have in their end to an opposite direction to the arc-shaped central region curved portion. At their ends the plates are moreover connected together by edge strips. Furthermore, the slots extend into the curved portion.

    [0007] In United Kingdom Patent GB151327, there is described springs formed by cutting tubes. A tubular sleeve of spring material is slitted intermediate of its ends so that under axial compression it bulges and on release of the pressure it returns to its original shape.

    SUMMARY



    [0008] Various aspects and embodiments of the invention are set out in the appended claims.

    [0009] Bushings, apparatuses that include bushings, and associated methods are disclosed herein. Bushings according to the present disclosure are configured to be used in the mounting of a component to an object, such as by utilizing a fastener to operatively mount the component to the object. As an illustrative, non-exclusive example, a bushing may be used to operatively mount a hydraulic line to a fuel tank of an aircraft; however, other applications of bushings also are within the scope of the present disclosure.

    [0010] Bushings according to the present disclosure include a tubular body that defines a through-bore for receiving a fastener for mounting a component to an object. The tubular body includes end regions and a plurality of spring elements spaced circumferentially around the tubular body and extending longitudinally along the tubular body between the end regions.

    [0011] In some examples, the tubular body defines a through-bore for receiving a fastener for mounting a component to an object. In some examples, the tubular body is constructed of electrically conductive material that has a conductivity of at least 1x106 Siemens per meter. In some examples the tubular body includes end regions that extend for less than 30% of an overall length of the bushing, In some examples, the spring elements are spaced circumferentially around the tubular body and extend longitudinally along the tubular body between the end regions and are defined by strips that are contiguous with the end regions and that are not contiguous with circumferentially adjacent portions of the tubular body. In some examples, the spring elements include a subset of radially inwardly extending spring elements and a subset of radially outwardly extending spring elements. In some examples, the radially inwardly extending spring elements and the radially outwardly extending spring elements alternate circumferentially around the tubular body.

    [0012] Some methods according to the present disclosure include positioning a bushing according to the present disclosure in a mounting hole of an object to which a component is to be mounted; positioning the component relative to the object to which the component is to be mounted; positioning a fastener through the mounting hole and the through-bore of the bushing; and fastening the component to the object, wherein the fastening includes longitudinally compressing the bushing.

    [0013] Some methods according to the present disclosure include forming a plurality of spring elements in a blank of material and following the forming, wrapping the blank to form the tubular body of a bushing according to the present disclosure.

    [0014] In some applications, a bushing according to the present disclosure may be used to ensure adequate grounding of a component that is mounted to an object.

    [0015] The features, functions, and advantages that have been discussed can be achieved independently in various embodiments or may be combined in yet other embodiments, further details of which can be seen with reference to the following description and drawings.

    BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS



    [0016] 

    Fig. 1 is a diagram schematically representing a portion of an apparatus that includes bushings according to the present disclosure.

    Fig. 2 is a perspective of an aircraft, representing an illustrative, non-exclusive example of an apparatus that includes bushings according to the present disclosure.

    Fig. 3 is an isometric view of a bulkhead isolator for a hydraulic line, representing an illustrative, non-exclusive example of a component that may be installed utilizing bushings according to the present disclosure, illustrated together with associated fasteners and schematic representations of bushings according to the present disclosure.

    Fig. 4 is an isometric view of an illustrative, non-exclusive example of a bushing according to the present disclosure.

    Fig. 5 is an isometric view of another illustrative, non-exclusive example of a bushing according to the present disclosure.

    Fig. 6 is an isometric view of another illustrative, non-exclusive example of a bushing according to the present disclosure.

    Fig. 7 is a fragmentary partially cross-sectional exploded side view illustrating a bushing according to the present disclosure in an uncompressed configuration, together with associated fasteners and an object to which a component may be mounted utilizing bushings according to the present disclosure.

    Fig. 8 is a fragmentary partially cross-sectional side view illustrating a bushing according to the present disclosure in a compressed configuration, together with associated fasteners and an object to which a component may be mounted utilizing bushings according to the present disclosure.

    Fig. 9 is a flowchart schematically representing illustrative, non-exclusive examples of utilizing bushings according to the present disclosure.

    Fig. 10 is a flowchart schematically representing illustrative, non-exclusive examples of manufacturing bushings according to the present disclosure.

    Fig. 11 is an isometric view of a cut sheet metal blank that may be used to form an illustrative, non-exclusive example of a bushing according to the present disclosure.

    Fig. 12 is an isometric view of a cut sheet metal blank that may be used to form an illustrative, non-exclusive example of a bushing according to the present disclosure.

    Fig. 13 is an isometric view of a cut sheet metal blank that may be used to form an illustrative, non-exclusive example of a bushing according to the present disclosure.

    Fig. 14 is a flowchart schematically representing illustrative, non-exclusive examples of manufacturing bushings according to the present disclosure.


    DESCRIPTION



    [0017] Bushings, apparatuses that include bushings, and associated methods are disclosed herein. Bushings according to the present disclosure are configured to be used in the mounting of a component to an object, such as by utilizing a fastener to operatively mount the component to the object. Examples of components, objects, and associated apparatuses discussed herein generally relate to aircraft; however, bushings and associated methods according to the present disclosure may relate to any suitable apparatuses, and the present disclosure is not limited to aerospace applications.

    [0018] Fig. 1 schematically illustrates a generic component 10 mounted to a generic object 12 utilizing fasteners 14 and bushings 16 according to the present disclosure. In the schematic representation of Fig. 1, component 10 includes a mounting structure 18 that is engaged with a wall 20 of the object 12 and that provides structure for fasteners 14 to operatively mount the component 10, including the mounting structure 18 thereof, to the wall 20 of the object 12. As schematically illustrated in Fig. 1, fasteners 14 extend through the wall 20, and bushings 16 provide an interface between the fasteners 14 and the wall 20 of the object 12. As schematically and optionally illustrated in dashed lines in Fig. 1, a bushing 16 additionally or alternatively may be used to provide an interface between the component 10, itself, and the wall 20 of the object 12. The assembly of a component 10 and an object 12, including fasteners 14 and bushings 16, may comprise an apparatus 22, or at least a portion of an apparatus 22, as generally indicated in Fig. 1. Fig. 1 is schematic in nature and is intended solely to schematically and graphically illustrate the relative relationships between a component 10, an object 12, fasteners 14, and bushings 16 according to the present disclosure, and does not limit the present disclosure to a specific application of bushings 16 according to the present disclosure.

    [0019] Bushings 16 are configured to provide a desired interface between a component 10 and/or fasteners 14 associated with the component 10, the mounting structure 18, and the wall 20 of an object 12. The desired interface may be based on any suitable criteria. As an illustrative, non-exclusive example, bushings 16 may be utilized to suitably and electrically ground the component 10 to the object 12, or otherwise ensure that the bushing 16 provides an electric current flow path between the component 10 and the object 12. Such a configuration may be desirable for a number of reasons. As an illustrative, non-exclusive example, the component 10 may be configured to carry an electric charge, and it may be desirable to prevent sparking at the interface of the component 10 and the object 12 or between the associated fasteners 14 and the object 12. In such an application, bushings 16 may be utilized to ensure that the interface between the component 10, the mounting structure 18, and/or associated fasteners 14 and the object 12 is tight, or free of voids, so as to increase the conductivity and decrease the resistivity of the interface, thereby decreasing the opportunity for a spark to form at the interface. Other applications also are within the scope of the present disclosure.

    [0020] In Fig. 2, an illustrative, non-exclusive example of an apparatus 22 is illustrated in the form of an aircraft 24. The example aircraft 24 is in the form of a fixed wing aircraft; however, other types and configurations of aircraft also are within the scope of the present disclosure, including (but not limited to) helicopters and missiles. Additional non-exclusive examples of apparatuses that may utilize, or include, bushings 16 include (but are not limited to) spacecraft, land vehicles, marine vehicles, wind turbines, masts, outdoor antennas, any apparatus 22 requiring lightening protection, any apparatus 22 having a component 10 or fastener 14 that penetrates a wall 20 of an object 12, etc.

    [0021] Aircraft 24 typically include hydraulic systems 26, such as to operate various components of the aircraft 24, including (but not limited to) flaps 28 and other movable portions of the wings 30. Moreover, aircraft 24 typically include one or more fuel tanks 32 within the wings 30 of the aircraft 24. Accordingly, in an effort to efficiently route the various hydraulic lines 34 associated with hydraulic systems 26 within the internal space constraints of the wings 30, the hydraulic lines 34 may penetrate and extend through the fuel tanks 32. Because hydraulic lines 34 typically are constructed of metallic materials and therefore are capable of carrying electrical charges, it may be important to prevent sparking at the interface between the hydraulic lines 34 and the fuel tanks 32. Moreover, because airframes 36 of modern aircraft 24, including the fuel tanks 32 thereof, may be constructed of composite fiber composite materials, the grounding of the hydraulic lines 34 to the fuel tanks 32 may require very tight connections to prevent against sparking. Accordingly, hydraulic lines 34 are examples of a component 10, and fuel tanks 32 are examples of an object 12.

    [0022] Fig. 3 shows an illustrative, non-exclusive example of a component 10 in the form of a bulkhead isolator 40 for a hydraulic line 34 for mounting to a fuel tank 32 of an aircraft 24, together with associated fasteners 14 and schematic representations of bushings 16. The bulkhead isolator 40 additionally or alternatively may be described as, or may be an example of, a mounting structure 18 for a hydraulic line 34. In the aerospace industry, the term "bulkhead" typically is used to refer to walls that separate "liquid zones" from "dry zones," such as, for example, the walls of a fuel tank 32, but the present disclosure is not limited to utilizing bushings 16 with bulkhead isolators 40 associated with mounting a hydraulic line 34 to a fuel tank 32. In the illustrated example, the fasteners 14 include studs 42 that are integral with the body of the mounting structure 18, washers 44, and nuts 46; however, other configurations of fasteners 14 are within the scope of the present disclosure, including the use of bolts that extend through mounting structure 18, the use of non-threaded fasteners, etc.

    [0023] Other applications within aircraft, within the aerospace industry, as well as applications outside of the aerospace industry also are within the scope of the present disclosure, including applications in which the object 12 is not constructed of fiber reinforced composite material, applications in which the component 10 or associated mounting structure 18 is not constructed of a metallic material, and/or applications that do not relate to the prevention of sparking at the interface between a component 10 and an object 12.

    [0024] Turning now to Figs. 4-6, illustrative non-exclusive examples of bushings 16 are illustrated. The examples of Figs. 4-6 are non-exclusive and do not limit the present disclosure to the illustrated embodiments. That is, bushings 16 are not limited to the specific embodiments illustrated in Figs. 4-6, and bushings 16 may incorporate any number of the various aspects, configurations, characteristics, properties, etc. of bushings 16 that are illustrated and discussed herein, as well as variations thereof, without requiring the inclusion of all such aspects, configurations, characteristics, properties, etc. For clarity, the example bushing 16 illustrated in Fig. 4 is indicated as bushing 50, the example bushing 16 illustrated in Fig. 5 is indicated as bushing 52, and the example bushing illustrated in Fig. 6 is indicated as bushing 53.

    [0025] As seen in Figs. 4-6, bushings 16, including bushing 50, bushing 52, and bushing 53, include a tubular body 54 that defines a through-bore 56 and that includes a plurality of spring elements 58 that are spaced circumferentially around the tubular body 54 and that extend longitudinally along the tubular body 54 between opposed end regions 60 of the tubular body. The spring elements 58 of bushing 50 and bushing 52 extend parallel to the respective bushing's longitudinal axis, whereas the spring elements 58 of bushing 53 extend transverse, or at an angle, to the bushing's longitudinal axis. Additionally or alternatively, the spring elements 58 of bushing 53 may be described as being spiraled, or as spiraling around the bushing 53. The through-bore 56 is sized to receive a corresponding fastener 14 for mounting a component 10 to an object 12.

    [0026] In some embodiments, each end region 60 may extend for less than 30, 20, 10, or 5% of an overall length of the bushing 16. Additionally or alternatively, the spring elements 58 may extend for at least 70, 80, 90, or 95% of the overall length of the bushing 16. Other relative lengths of end regions 60 and spring elements 58 also are within the scope of the present disclosure.

    [0027] In some embodiments, the spring elements 58 may be defined by strips of material that are contiguous with the end regions 60 and that are not contiguous with circumferentially adjacent portions of the tubular body 54. Additionally or alternatively, the tubular body 54 may be described as defining a plurality of longitudinal slits 62 that are spaced apart circumferentially around the tubular body and with adjacent pairs of the spaced apart longitudinal slits 62 defining the spring elements 58. In some embodiments, spring elements 58 additionally or alternatively may be described as leaf spring elements 58.

    [0028] In some embodiments of bushings 16, the spring elements 58 may be spaced apart from each other circumferentially around the tubular body 54. Bushing 50 of Fig. 4 is an example of such a bushing 16, and as seen in Fig. 4, the adjacent pairs of spring elements 58 are separated by strips of material 64 that extend between the end regions 60 of the tubular body 54. Bushing 53 of Fig. 6 also is an example of such a bushing 16, with strips of material 64 separating adjacent pairs of spring elements 58. Bushing 52 of Fig. 5, however, is an example of a bushing 16, in which adjacent pairs of spring elements 58 are not separated by strips of material 64. Other configurations also are within the scope of the present disclosure, including bushings 16 having spiral spring elements 58, as in bushing 53, but with adjacent pairs of spring elements 58 being separate by strips of material 64, as in bushing 50.

    [0029] In some embodiments of bushings 16, the plurality of spring elements 58 may include a plurality of radially inwardly extending spring elements 66. Additionally or alternatively, in some embodiments of bushings 16, the plurality of spring elements 58 may include a plurality of radially outwardly extending spring elements 68. In the examples of Figs. 4-6, bushing 50, bushing 52, and bushing 53 include radially inwardly extending spring elements 66 and radially outwardly extending spring elements 68. Moreover, in the examples of bushings 50, 52, and 53 the radially inwardly extending spring elements 66 and the radially outwardly extending spring elements 68 alternate circumferentially around the tubular body 54 of the bushing 16. However, such configurations are not required to all embodiments of bushings 16 according to the present disclosure, and it is within the scope of the present disclosure that a bushing 16 may include only radially inwardly extending spring elements 66 or only radially outwardly extending spring elements 68. Moreover, a bushing 16 may include both radially inwardly extending spring elements 66 and radially outwardly extending spring elements 68 that do not alternate circumferentially around the tubular body 54.

    [0030] Additionally or alternatively, the radially inwardly extending spring elements 66 may be described as bowing radially inwardly. Additionally or alternatively, the radially inwardly extending spring elements 66 may be described as being concave with respect to an outer side of the bushing 16. Additionally or alternatively, the radially outwardly extending spring elements 68 may be described as bowing radially outwardly. Additionally or alternatively, the radially outwardly extending spring elements 68 may be described as convex with respect to an outer side of the bushing 16.

    [0031] Bushings 16 may be constructed in any suitable manner of any suitable material, utilizing any suitable process, for example, depending on the application in which a bushing 16 is to be utilized. In some embodiments, the tubular body 54 may be constructed of a single monolithic piece of material. Bushings 50, 52, and 53 are examples of such bushings 16. In some such embodiments, the tubular body 54 may define a longitudinal seam 70, such as schematically and optionally illustrated in dashed lines in Figs. 4-5 with respect to busing 50 and bushing 52. When present, the seam 70 may be a result of the forming process, examples of which are discussed herein. In some embodiments, the seam 70 may not be joined together. In other embodiments, the seam 70 may be joined together, such as by a brazing process and/or by a crimping process. In some embodiments, the tubular body 54 may be constructed of a cut length of tubing, including a seamless length of tubing.

    [0032] Illustrative, non-exclusive examples of suitable materials from which bushings 16 may be constructed include electrically conductive materials, such as materials that have a conductivity of at least 1x106 Siemens per meter, examples of which include (but are not limited to) brass alloys and copper alloys, such as beryllium copper. Additionally or alternatively, the tubular body 54 of a bushing 16 may be plated, such as gold plated, nickel plated, and/or zinc plated. Other materials also are within the scope of the present disclosure. Figs. 7-8 somewhat schematically represent illustrative, non-exclusive examples of bushings 16 together with a component 10, an object 12, and associated fasteners 14. Bushing 16 and object 12 are schematically illustrated in cross-section, and component 10 and the associated fasteners 14 are not illustrated in cross-section. In the illustrated example, fasteners 14 include a washer 44, a nut 46, and a threaded shaft 48. The threaded shaft 48 may be a stud 42 or it may be a separate bolt, and as mentioned, other configurations of fasteners 14 are within the scope of the present disclosure. Fig. 7 schematically illustrates a bushing 16 in an uncompressed configuration, and Fig. 8 schematically illustrates a bushing 16 in a compressed configuration.

    [0033] As illustrated in Figs. 7-8, bushings 16 are sized (and intended) to be inserted into a mounting hole 80 that extends through and is defined by the wall 20 of the object 12. Typically, the tubular body 54 of the bushing 16 has an outer diameter (or diameters) that is at least approximately equal to a diameter of the mounting hole 80 into which the bushing 16 is to be inserted. Because a bushing 16 may include radially outwardly extending spring elements 68, the tubular body 54 may not have a uniform outer diameter. In some embodiments, the outer diameter generally defined by the end regions 60 may be equal to, or at least approximately equal to, the diameter of the mounting hole 80 into which the bushing 16 is to be inserted.

    [0034] Bushings 16 are configured to be longitudinally compressed by fasteners 14, such as between a washer 44 and a component 10. Accordingly, the tubular body 54 of a bushing may be described as having an uncompressed longitudinal length that is longer than a length, or depth, of the mounting hole 80, into which the bushing 16 is to be inserted, and a compressed longitudinal length that is equal to, or at least approximately equal to, the length, or depth, of the mounting hole 80, into which the bushing 16 is to be inserted. The longitudinal compressive force applied to the tubular body 54 when installed may be described as an installation force. Tubular bodies 54 may be configured to be compressed various amounts, depending on the application of the bushing 16 and such factors as the construction of the bushing 16. As an illustrative, non-exclusive example, the longitudinal length of the tubular body 54 when compressed may be in the range of 0.1-10% of the longitudinal length of the tubular body 54 when not compressed.

    [0035] Bushings 16 may be sized for any suitable application. As illustrative, non-exclusive examples, the end regions 60 of the tubular body 54 may have outer diameters in the range of 3-100, 3-50, 3-30, 3-15, 3-10, or 3-5 mm; however, other sizes outside of the enumerated ranges also are within the scope of the present disclosure. Accordingly, bushings 16 may be configured and intended to be used with and inserted into mounting holes 80 having similar diameters. Additionally or alternatively, the tubular body 54 may have a longitudinal length, when compressed, in the range of 3-100, 3-50, 3-30, 3-15, 3-10, or 3-5 mm, such as to correspond with a mounting hole 80 having a similar length, or depth. Other sizes outside of the enumerated ranges also are within the scope of the present disclosure. Illustrative, non-exclusive examples of suitable wall thicknesses of the tubular body include thicknesses in the range of 0.1-3 mm; however, other thicknesses outside of this range also are within the scope of the present disclosure.

    [0036] When operatively installed and compressed within a mounting hole 80, such as schematically represented in Fig. 8, the spring elements 58 may impart radial pressures on a fastener 14, such as the threaded shaft 48 of Figs. 7-8, and/or on the wall 20 of the object 12. For example, radially inwardly extending spring elements 66, when included in a bushing 16, will impart an inward radial pressure on the fastener 14 that extends through the through-bore 56 of the tubular body 54. Radially outwardly extending spring elements 68, when included in a bushing 16, will impart an outward radial pressure on the fastener 14 that extends through the through-bore 56 of the tubular body 54. In some embodiments, when installed the interface between the tubular body 54 and the wall 20 of the object and the interface between the tubular body 54 and the fastener 14 that extends through the through-bore of the tubular body 54 may be configured to prevent sparking between the fastener 14 and the object 12. Additionally or alternatively, when installed the interface between the tubular body 54 and the wall 20 of the object and the interface between the tubular body 54 and the fastener 14 that extends through the through-bore of the tubular body 54 generally may be free of voids, or at least substantially free of voids.

    [0037] In some embodiments of bushings 16, although not required, one or both of the end regions 60 may be flared out at the terminal end thereof, such as optionally illustrated in dashed lines in Fig. 7 at 72. Such a configuration may be desirable in some applications, such as when a fastener 14 in the form of a bolt has a radius, or fillet, at the interface between the shaft of the bolt and the head of the bolt.

    [0038] Fig. 9 provides a flowchart that represents illustrative, non-exclusive examples of methods 100 for utilizing bushings 16 according to the present disclosure. The methods and steps illustrated in Fig. 9 are not limiting and other methods and steps are within the scope of the present disclosure, including methods having greater than or fewer than the number of steps illustrated, as understood from the discussions herein.

    [0039] As schematically illustrated in Fig. 9, methods 100 include positioning the bushing 16 in a mounting hole 80 of an object 12 to which a component 10 is to be mounted, as schematically indicated at 102, positioning the component 10 relative to the object 12 to which the component 10 is to be mounted, as schematically indicated at 104, positioning a fastener 14 through the mounting hole 80 and the through-bore 56 of the bushing 16, as schematically indicated at 106, and fastening the component 10 to the object 12, as schematically indicated at 108. Any suitable order of these steps may be performed, and methods 100 are not limited to performance of the steps in the illustrated order of Fig. 9. For example, in some applications, it may be desirable, or suitable, to position the bushing 16 onto the fastener 14, and then position both of the bushing 16 and the fastener 14 relative to the object 12. Additionally or alternatively, in applications in which the fastener 14 is integral to the component 10, such as in the form of a stud 42, as in the example of Fig. 3, the positioning 104 of the component and the positioning 106 of the fastener may be performed simultaneously.

    [0040] In some methods 100, the fastening 108 includes longitudinally compressing the bushing 16. In some methods 100, prior to the fastening 108, the bushing 16 has a longitudinal length that is greater than a length of the mounting hole 80, and following the fastening 108, the length of the bushing 16 is equal to, or is approximately equal to, the length of the mounting hole 80.

    [0041] In some methods 100, such as depending on the construction of the bushing 16 and/or on the interface between the bushing 16 and the mounting hole 80, the fastening 108 may include applying an outward radial pressure by radially outwardly extending spring elements 68 against the wall 20 of the object 12. In some methods 100, the fastening 108 may include applying an inward radial pressure by radially inwardly extending spring elements 66 against the fastener 14 that extends through the through-bore 56 of the tubular body 54. In some methods 100, the fastening 108 may include operatively engaging the wall 20 of the object 12 and the fastener 14 that extends through the through-bore 56 with the tubular body 54 of the bushing 16.

    [0042] In some methods 100, following the fastening 108, the fastener 14 may be grounded electrically to the object 12 through the bushing 16. In some methods 100, following the fastening 108, the component 10 is grounded electrically to the object 12 through the fastener 14 and the bushing 16.

    [0043] In some methods 100, following the fastening 108, the interface between the bushing 16 and the fastener 14 and the interface between the bushing 16 and the object 10 are configured to prevent sparking between the fastener 14, the bushing 16, and the object 10 when the fastener 14 carries an electrical charge.

    [0044] As discussed, bushings 16 may be used in a variety of applications. As an illustrative, non-exclusive example, in methods 100, the object 10 may include a tank for holding liquid, such as a fuel tank, including a fuel tank 32 of an aircraft 24. In some methods 100, the object 12 may be constructed of fiber reinforced composite material. In some methods 100, the component 10 may be configured to carry an electrical charge and the bushing 16 may be configured to ground the component 10 to the object 12. In some methods 100, the component 10 may include a bulkhead isolator 40 for a hydraulic line 34.

    [0045] Fig. 10 provides a flowchart that represents illustrative, non-exclusive examples of methods 200 of manufacturing bushings 16 according to the present disclosure. The methods and steps illustrated in Fig. 10 are not limiting and other methods and steps are within the scope of the present disclosure, including methods having greater than or fewer than the number of steps illustrated, as understood from the discussions herein.

    [0046] As schematically illustrated in Fig. 10, methods 200 include forming a plurality of spring elements 58 in a blank 210 of material, as schematically indicated at 202, and following the forming 202, wrapping the blank to form a tubular body 54, as schematically indicated at 204. As schematically and optionally illustrated in dashed boxed in Fig. 10, following the wrapping 204, some methods 200 additionally may include heat treating the tubular body 54, as schematically indicated at 206, and plating the tubular body 54, as schematically indicated at 208.

    [0047] Figs. 11-13 illustrate examples of blanks 210 that have had spring elements 58 formed therein. More specifically, Fig. 11 illustrates a blank 212 that corresponds to a bushing 50 according to the present disclosure, Fig. 12 illustrates a blank 214 that corresponds to a bushing 52 according to the present disclosure, and Fig. 13 illustrates a blank 215 that corresponds to a bushing 53 according to the present disclosure.

    [0048] In some methods 200, the forming 202 may include cutting a plurality of spaced apart longitudinal slits 62 in the blank 210. In some such methods 200, the forming 202 also may include deforming strips of material between adjacent pairs of the plurality of spaced apart longitudinal slits 62 in a radial direction to form the plurality of spring elements 58. In some such methods 200, the deforming further includes bending a first subset of the strips in a first direction away from a plane defined by the blank 210 (for example, to define what will become radially inwardly extending spring elements 66) and bending a second subset of the strips in a second direction away from the plane defined by the blank 210 (for example, to define what will become radially outwardly extending spring elements 68), with the second direction being opposite the first direction. In some such methods, following the deforming, the first subset of the strips and the second subset of the strips alternate laterally across the blank 210.

    [0049] In some methods 200, following the forming 202, the spring elements 58 are spaced apart from each other laterally across the blank 210, such as corresponding to a bushing 50 or a bushing 53 according to the present disclosure.
    In some methods 200, the forming 202 may include die cutting the blank 210. In some methods 200, the blank 210 may be a rectangular, planar portion of sheet metal.

    [0050] In some methods 200, the wrapping 204 may include wrapping the blank around a mandrel or other form, to form the tubular body 54. In some methods 200, the wrapping 204 defines a seam 70 between opposed edges 216 of the blank 210. In some such methods 200, following the wrapping 204, the edges 216 may be joined at the seam 70, such as by optionally brazing and/or crimping the edges 216 together.

    [0051] Fig. 14 provides a flowchart that represents illustrative, non-exclusive examples of methods 220 of manufacturing bushings 16 according to the present disclosure. The methods and steps illustrated in Fig. 14 are not limiting and other methods and steps are within the scope of the present disclosure, including methods having greater than or fewer than the number of steps illustrated, as understood from the discussions herein.

    [0052] As schematically illustrated in Fig. 14, methods 220 include cutting a length of tubing, as schematically indicated at 222, and following the cutting 222, forming a plurality of spring elements 58 in the cut length of tubing, as schematically indicated at 224. As schematically and optionally illustrated in dashed boxed in Fig. 14, following the forming 224, some methods 220 additionally may include heat treating the tubular body 54, as schematically indicated at 226, and plating the tubular body 54, as schematically indicated at 228.

    [0053] In some methods 220, the forming 222 may include cutting a plurality of spaced apart longitudinal slits 62 in the cut length of tubing. In some such methods 220, the forming 222 also may include deforming strips of material between adjacent pairs of the plurality of spaced apart longitudinal slits 62 in a radial direction to form the plurality of spring elements 58. In some such methods 220, the deforming further includes bending a first subset of the strips in a first radial direction (for example, to define radially inwardly extending spring elements 66) and bending a second subset of the strips in a second and opposite radial direction away (for example, to define radially outwardly extending spring elements 68). In some such methods 220, following the deforming, the first subset of the strips and the second subset of the strips alternate circumferentially around the tubular body 54.

    [0054] In some methods 220, the forming 222 may include positioning the cut length of tubing over a cylindrical mandrel that has sharp-edged slots formed into it and extending longitudinally along the cylindrical mandrel. Then, cutting dies (for example, shaped similar to woodruff keys) may be forced radially inwardly along the sharp-edged slots, thereby cutting and plastically deforming radially inwardly extending spring elements 66 into the cut length of tubing. Additionally or alternatively, the forming 222 may include positioning the cut length of tubing inside of a hollow mandrel that has sharp edged slots formed into and extending longitudinally along the hollow mandrel. Then, cutting dies (for example, shaped similar to woodruff keys) may be forced radially outwardly along the sharp-edged slots, thereby cutting and plastically deforming radially outwardly extending spring elements 68 into the cut length of tubing.

    [0055] As used herein, a "fiber reinforced composite material" should be understood to include at least an epoxy or other polymer or binding material together with fibers, such as (but not limited to) carbon fibers, boron fibers, para-aramid (e.g., Kevlar®) fibers, and/or other fibers. Fiber reinforced composite materials additionally or alternatively may be described as or referred to as fiber reinforced polymers, or plastics.

    [0056] As used herein, the terms "selective" and "selectively," when modifying an action, movement, configuration, or other activity of one or more components or characteristics of an apparatus, mean that the specific action, movement, configuration, or other activity is a direct or indirect result of user manipulation of an aspect of, or one or more components of, the apparatus.

    [0057] As used herein, the terms "adapted" and "configured" mean that the element, component, or other subject matter is designed and/or intended to perform a given function. Thus, the use of the terms "adapted" and "configured" should not be construed to mean that a given element, component, or other subject matter is simply "capable of" performing a given function but that the element, component, and/or other subject matter is specifically selected, created, implemented, utilized, programmed, and/or designed for the purpose of performing the function. It is also within the scope of the present disclosure that elements, components, and/or other recited subject matter that is recited as being adapted to perform a particular function may additionally or alternatively be described as being configured to perform that function, and vice versa. Similarly, subject matter that is recited as being configured to perform a particular function may additionally or alternatively be described as being operative to perform that function.

    [0058] The various disclosed elements of apparatuses and steps of methods disclosed herein are not required to all apparatuses and methods according to the present disclosure, and the present disclosure includes all novel and non-obvious combinations and subcombinations of the various elements and steps disclosed herein. Moreover, one or more of the various elements and steps disclosed herein may define independent inventive subject matter that is separate and apart from the whole of a disclosed apparatus or method. Accordingly, such inventive subject matter is not required to be associated with the specific apparatuses and methods that are expressly disclosed herein, and such inventive subject matter may find utility in apparatuses and/or methods that are not expressly disclosed herein.


    Claims

    1. A system comprising:

    an aircraft component (10), wherein the aircraft component includes a hydraulic line (34), and wherein the hydraulic line is configured to carry an electrical charge;

    an aircraft object (12), wherein the aircraft object includes a fuel tank (32) of an aircraft (24), wherein the fuel tank is constructed of fiber reinforced composite material, and wherein the aircraft component is operatively fastened to the aircraft object; and

    an aircraft mounting assembly for mounting the aircraft component (10) to the aircraft object (12), the aircraft mounting assembly comprising a fastener (14) and an electrically conductive bushing (50) for positioning within a mounting hole defined by the aircraft object (12), the bushing (50) comprising:

    a tubular body (54) that defines a through-bore (56), wherein the tubular body (54) includes end regions (60) and a plurality of spring elements (58) spaced circumferentially around the tubular body (54) and extending longitudinally along the tubular body (54) between the end regions (60);

    wherein the aircraft mounting assembly is configured such that the mounting of the aircraft component (10) to the aircraft object (12) comprises the fastener extending through the through-bore (56) and the fastener applying a longitudinally compressive force to the bushing to compress the bushing, the bushing (50) having a compressed length that is less than an uncompressed length and wherein the bushing provides an electric current flow path between the hydraulic line and the fuel tank.


     
    2. The system of claim 1, wherein the tubular body (54) includes end regions (60) that are flared radially outward.
     
    3. The system of any preceding claim, wherein the plurality of spring elements (58) are spaced apart from each other circumferentially around the tubular body (54).
     
    4. The system of any preceding claim, wherein the plurality of spring elements (58) includes one of: a plurality of radially inwardly extending spring elements (66) or a plurality of radially outwardly extending spring elements (68).
     
    5. The system of any preceding claim, wherein the plurality of spring elements (58) includes a subset of radially inwardly extending spring elements (66) and a subset of radially outwardly extending spring elements (68); wherein the radially inwardly extending spring elements (66) and the radially outwardly extending spring elements (68) alternate circumferentially around the tubular body (54); and, wherein the spring elements (58) are leaf springs.
     
    6. The system of any preceding claim, wherein the tubular body (54) defines a plurality of longitudinal slits (62) spaced apart circumferentially around the tubular body (54), and wherein adjacent pairs of slits (62) define the plurality of spring elements (58).
     
    7. The system of any preceding claim, wherein the tubular body (54) is constructed of a single monolithic piece of material.
     
    8. The system of any preceding claim, wherein the tubular body (54) defines a longitudinal seam (70) that is not joined together.
     
    9. The system of any preceding claim, wherein each end region (60) extends for less than 30% of an overall length of the bushing (50).
     
    10. The system of any preceding claim, wherein the spring elements (58) are defined by strips that are contiguous with the end regions (60) and that are not contiguous with circumferentially adjacent portions of the tubular body (54).
     
    11. The system of any preceding claim, wherein the tubular body (54) is constructed of electrically conductive material that has a conductivity of at least 1x106 Siemens per meter.
     


    Ansprüche

    1. System, umfassend:

    eine Flugzeugkomponente (10), wobei die Flugzeugkomponente eine Hydraulikleitung (34) umfasst und wobei die Hydraulikleitung konfiguriert ist, um eine elektrische Ladung zu tragen;

    ein Flugzeugobjekt (12), wobei das Flugzeugobjekt einen Treibstofftank (32) eines Flugzeugs (24) umfasst, wobei der Treibstofftank aus faserverstärktem Verbundmaterial aufgebaut ist, und wobei die Flugzeugkomponente operativ an dem Flugzeugobjekt befestigt ist; und

    eine Flugzeug-Befestigungsanordnung zum Befestigen der Flugzeugkomponente (10) an dem Flugzeugobjekt (12), wobei die Flugzeug-Befestigungsanordnung ein Befestigungselement(14) und eine elektrisch leitende Buchse (50) zur Positionierung innerhalb eines durch das Flugzeugobjekt (12) definierten Befestigungslochs umfasst, wobei die Buchse (50) umfasst:

    einen rohrförmigen Körper (54), der eine Durchgangsbohrung (56) definiert, wobei der rohrförmige Körper (54) Endbereiche (60) und eine Mehrzahl von Federelementen (58) aufweist, die in Umfangsrichtung um den rohrförmigen Körper (54) herum beabstandet sind und sich in Längsrichtung entlang des rohrförmigen Körpers (54) zwischen den Endbereichen (60) erstrecken;

    wobei die Flugzeugbefestigungsanordnung so konfiguriert ist, dass das Befestigen der Flugzeugkomponente (10) an dem Flugzeugobjekt (12) das Erstrecken des Befestigungsmittels durch die Durchgangsbohrung (56) und das Aufbringen einer Längsdruckkraft auf die Buchse durch das Befestigungsmittel umfasst, um die Buchse zusammenzudrücken, wobei die Buchse (50) eine zusammengedrückte Länge aufweist, die kleiner als eine nicht zusammengedrückte Länge ist, und wobei die Buchse einen elektrischen Stromflussweg zwischen der Hydraulikleitung und dem Kraftstofftank bereitstellt.


     
    2. System nach Anspruch 1, bei dem der rohrförmige Körper (54) Endbereiche (60) aufweist, die radial nach außen aufgeweitet sind.
     
    3. System nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, bei dem die Mehrzahl von Federelementen (58) in Umfangsrichtung um den rohrförmigen Körper (54) herum voneinander beabstandet sind.
     
    4. System nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, bei dem die Mehrzahl von Federelementen (58) eines der folgenden enthält: eine Mehrzahl von sich radial nach innen erstreckenden Federelementen (66) oder eine Mehrzahl von sich radial nach außen erstreckenden Federelementen (68).
     
    5. System nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, bei dem die Mehrzahl von Federelementen (58) eine Untergruppe von sich radial nach innen erstreckenden Federelementen (66) und eine Untergruppe von sich radial nach außen erstreckenden Federelementen (68) aufweist; wobei die sich radial nach innen erstreckenden Federelemente (66) und die sich radial nach außen erstreckenden Federelemente (68) sich in Umfangsrichtung um den rohrförmigen Körper (54) abwechseln; und wobei die Federelemente (58) Blattfedern sind.
     
    6. System nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, bei dem der rohrförmige Körper (54) eine Mehrzahl von Längsschlitzen (62) definiert, die in Umfangsrichtung um den rohrförmigen Körper (54) herum beabstandet sind, und bei dem benachbarte Paare von Schlitzen (62) die Mehrzahl von Federelementen (58) definieren.
     
    7. System nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, bei dem der rohrförmige Körper (54) aus einem einzigen monolithischen Materialstück konstruiert ist.
     
    8. System nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, bei dem der rohrförmige Körper (54) eine Längsnaht (70) definiert, die nicht zusammengefügt ist.
     
    9. System nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, bei dem sich jeder Endbereich (60) über weniger als 30% einer Gesamtlänge der Buchse (50) erstreckt.
     
    10. System nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, bei dem die Federelemente (58) durch Streifen definiert sind, die an die Endbereiche (60) angrenzen und die nicht an in Umfangsrichtung benachbarte Abschnitte des rohrförmigen Körpers (54) angrenzen.
     
    11. System nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, bei dem der rohrförmige Körper (54) aus elektrisch leitfähigem Material hergestellt ist, das eine Leitfähigkeit von mindestens 1x106 Siemens pro Meter aufweist.
     


    Revendications

    1. Système comprenant :

    un composant d'aéronef (10), dans lequel le composant d'aéronef comprend une ligne hydraulique (34), et dans lequel la ligne hydraulique est configurée pour transporter une charge électrique ;

    un objet d'aéronef (12), dans lequel l'objet d'aéronef comprend un réservoir de carburant (32) d'un aéronef (24), dans lequel le réservoir de carburant est construit en un matériau composite renforcé de fibres, et dans lequel le composant d'aéronef est fixé fonctionnellement à l'objet d'aéronef ; et

    un ensemble de montage d'aéronef pour monter le composant d'aéronef (10) sur l'objet d'aéronef (12), l'ensemble de montage d'aéronef comprenant une fixation (14) et une douille électriquement conductrice (50) pour un positionnement dans un trou de montage défini par l'objet d'aéronef (12), la douille (50) comprenant :

    un corps tubulaire (54) qui définit un alésage traversant (56), dans lequel le corps tubulaire (54) comprend des régions d'extrémité (60) et une pluralité d'éléments de ressort (58) espacés circonférentiellement autour du corps tubulaire (54) et s'étendant longitudinalement le long du corps tubulaire (54) entre les régions d'extrémité (60) ;

    dans lequel l'ensemble de montage d'aéronef est configuré de telle sorte que le montage du composant d'aéronef (10) sur l'objet d'aéronef (12) comprend la fixation s'étendant à travers l'alésage traversant (56) et la fixation appliquant une force de compression longitudinale à la douille pour comprimer la douille, la douille (50) ayant une longueur comprimée qui est inférieure à une longueur non comprimée et dans lequel la douille fournit un trajet de circulation de courant électrique entre la ligne hydraulique et le réservoir de carburant.


     
    2. Système selon la revendication 1, dans lequel le corps tubulaire (54) comprend des régions d'extrémité (60) qui sont évasées radialement vers l'extérieur.
     
    3. Système selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans lequel la pluralité d'éléments de ressort (58) sont espacés les uns des autres circonférentiellement autour du corps tubulaire (54).
     
    4. Système selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans lequel la pluralité d'éléments de ressort (58) comprend une parmi :

    une pluralité d'éléments de ressort s'étendant radialement vers l'intérieur (66) ou

    une pluralité d'éléments de ressort s'étendant radialement vers l'extérieur (68).


     
    5. Système selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans lequel la pluralité d'éléments de ressort (58) comprend un sous-ensemble d'éléments de ressort s'étendant radialement vers l'intérieur (66) et un sous-ensemble d'éléments de ressort s'étendant radialement vers l'extérieur (68) ; dans lequel les éléments de ressort s'étendant radialement vers l'intérieur (66) et les éléments de ressort s'étendant radialement vers l'extérieur (68) alternent circonférentiellement autour du corps tubulaire (54) ; et dans lequel les éléments de ressort (58) sont des ressorts à lame.
     
    6. Système selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans lequel le corps tubulaire (54) définit une pluralité de fentes longitudinales (62) espacées circonférentiellement autour du corps tubulaire (54), et dans lequel des paires de fentes adjacentes (62) définissent la pluralité d'éléments de ressort (58).
     
    7. Système selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans lequel le corps tubulaire (54) est construit en une pièce de matériau monolithique unique.
     
    8. Système selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans lequel le corps tubulaire (54) définit un joint longitudinal (70) qui n'est pas réuni.
     
    9. Système selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans lequel chaque région d'extrémité (60) s'étend sur moins de 30 % d'une longueur totale de la douille (50).
     
    10. Système selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans lequel les éléments de ressort (58) sont définis par des bandes qui sont contiguës aux régions d'extrémité (60) et qui ne sont pas contiguës à des parties circonférentiellement adjacentes du corps tubulaire (54).
     
    11. Système selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans lequel le corps tubulaire (54) est construit en un matériau électriquement conducteur qui a une conductivité d'au moins 1 x 106 Siemens par mètre.
     




    Drawing
























    REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



    This list of references cited by the applicant is for the reader's convenience only. It does not form part of the European patent document. Even though great care has been taken in compiling the references, errors or omissions cannot be excluded and the EPO disclaims all liability in this regard.

    Patent documents cited in the description