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Title:
GUIDING APPARATUS
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2015/063750
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A guiding apparatus for replicating the outline of a second component to a first component, the guiding device comprising a gripping unit adapted to grippingly engage the first component. A guide unit is adapted to contact an edge of the second component, the edge defining the outline to replicate. A supporting unit is adapted to receive a machining tool, the supporting unit orienting the machining tool, when such machining tool is installed, relative to the guide unit for concurrent movement of the guide unit and the machining tool along an axial direction of the first and second components while moving along the first component. A method for replicating an outline of a second component to a first component is also provided, for components such as aircraft fuselage sections.

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Inventors:
BOURCIER, Greg (1476 Wildren Place, Cambridge, Ontario N3H 5A9, CA)
Application Number:
IB2014/065800
Publication Date:
May 07, 2015
Filing Date:
November 04, 2014
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
BOMBARDIER INC. (400 chemin de la Côte-Vertu Ouest, Dorval, Québec H4S 1Y9, CA)
SHORT BROTHERS PLC (Airport Road, Belfast BT3 9DZ, IE)
International Classes:
B23Q9/00; B23Q9/02; B23Q35/10; B64F5/00
Foreign References:
DE2620761A11977-12-01
DE3520526A11986-12-11
EP0114915A21984-08-08
FR2588792A11987-04-24
EP0763395A21997-03-19
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
NORTON ROSE FULBRIGHT CANADA LLP/S.E.N.C.R.L., S.R.L. (Suite 2500, 1 Place Ville-MarieMontréal, Québec H3B 1R1, CA)
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Claims:
CLAIMS :

1. A guiding apparatus for replicating the outline of a second component to a first component, the guiding device comprising:

a gripping unit adapted to grippingly engage the first component;

a guide unit adapted to contact an edge of the second component, the edge defining the outline to replicate; and

a supporting unit adapted to receive a machining tool, the supporting unit orienting the machining tool, when such machining tool is installed, relative to the guide unit for concurrent movement of the guide unit and the machining tool along an axial direction of the first and second components while moving along the first component.

2. The guiding apparatus according to claim 1, wherein the gripping unit comprises at least one gripping member having at least an outer roller and an inner roller separated by a gap, at least one support block between the outer roller and the inner roller to bias the outer roller and the inner roller toward one another, the outer roller and an inner roller grippingly engaged to a wall of one of the first component by rollingly abutting against opposed surfaces of the wall.

3. The guiding apparatus according to claim 2, wherein the rotation axes of the outer roller and the inner roller are parallel to a longitudinal axis of the first and second components. . The guiding apparatus according to any one of claims 2 and 3, further comprising two of said gripping member, the two said gripping members being in gripping engagement with the first component .

5. The guiding apparatus according to any one of claim 2 to 4, wherein the at least one gripping member comprises a pulley roller generally transversely oriented relative to the outer roller and the inner roller, and adapted to contact an end edge of the first component.

6. The guiding apparatus according to claim 5, wherein the pulley roller has a peripheral groove for receiving a portion of the end edge.

7. The guiding apparatus according to claim 6, further comprising a support block biasing the pulley roller against the end edge of the first component.

8. The guiding apparatus according to any one of claims 5 to 7, wherein an axis of rotation of the pulley roller of the at least one gripping member is oriented toward a centerline of the first component.

9. The guiding apparatus according to any one of claims 1 to 8, wherein the guide unit further comprises at least one roller oriented to be adapted to rollingly abut against the edge of the second component while the guiding apparatus moves circumferentially along the first component .

10. The guiding apparatus according to claim 9, further comprising a support block connecting the roller to the carriage, the support block adapted to bias the roller a doubler of the second component.

11. The guiding apparatus according to any one of claims 9 and 10, wherein the guide unit comprises two said rollers .

12. The guiding apparatus according to claim 11, wherein the axes of rotation of the two said rollers are paralle1 to one another .

13. The guiding apparatus according to claim 11, wherein the axes of rotation of the two said rollers converge to a centerline of the second component.

1 . The guiding apparatus according to any one of claims 11 to 13, wherein a blade of the machining tool is aligned with a trailing one of the two said rollers when the guiding apparatus moves circumferentially along the edge .

15. The guiding apparatus according to any one of claims 1 to 14, further comprising a handle on the carriage, the handle having a grasping portion transversely positioned relative to the axial direction.

16. The guiding apparatus according to any one of claims 1 to 15, further comprising a lockable joint between the machining tool and the carriage to selectively adjust at least one of a position and an orientation of the machining tool relative to the carriage .

17. The guiding apparatus according to claim 16, wherein the lockable joint comprises an arcuate slot in the carriage, and a threaded member and nut on the machining tool .

18. The guiding apparatus according to any one of claims 1 to 17, wherein the first and second components are tubular components, with the guiding apparatus moving circumferentially along the tubular components .

19. The guiding apparatus according to claim 18, wherein the first and second components are aircraft fuselage sections.

20. The guiding apparatus according to any one of claims 1 to 19, wherein the machining tool is one of a cutting tool, a grinding tool, a trimming tool and a sawing tool.

21. A method for replicating an outline of a second component to a first component comprising:

grippingly engaging a guiding apparatus on the first component;

abutting a guide unit of the guiding apparatus against an edge of the second component, the edge defining the outline to replicate; and

moving the guiding apparatus with a machining tool thereon along the edge of the first component while the guide unit traces the edge of the second component to impart movement to the guiding apparatus in an axial direction of the first component.

22. The method according to claim 21, wherein grippingly engaging a guiding apparatus comprises sandwiching a wall of the first component between rollers for rolling engagement.

23. The method according to any one of claims 21 and 22, wherein grippingly engaging a guiding apparatus comprises abutting a pulley roller against an edge of the first component for rolling engagement.

24. The method according to any one of claims 21 to 23, wherein abutting a guide unit of the guiding apparatus against an edge of the second component comprises abutting at least one roller against the edge of the second component for rolling engagement.

25. The method according to claim 24, wherein abutting a guide unit of the guiding apparatus against an edge of the second component comprises abutting a lateral face of the at least one roller against a doubler of the second component.

26. The method according to any one of claims 21 to

25, further comprising adjusting at least one of a position and an orientation of the machining tool on the guiding apparatus .

27. The method according to any one of claims 21 to

26, further comprising machining an edge of the first component with the machining tool when moving the guiding apparatus along the edge of the first component.

28. The method according to any one of claims 21 to

27, wherein the first and second components are tubular components, and wherein moving the guiding apparatus comprises moving the guiding apparatus circumferentially along the tubular components .

29. The method according to claim 28, wherein the first and second components are aircraft fuselage sections, and wherein moving the guiding apparatus comprises moving the guiding apparatus circumferentially along the aircraft fuselage sections.

Description:
GUIDING APPARATUS

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

[0001] The present application claims priority United

States Provisional Application No. 61/899,430, filed on November 4, 2013, and incorporated herein by reference.

FIELD OF THE APPLICATION

[0002] The present application relates to the assembly of aircraft fuselage sections and more particularly to an apparatus for guiding a tool along a fuselage edge of a fuselage section for cutting the fuselage edge and subsequent assembly with another fuselage section.

BACKGROUND OF THE ART

[0003] When assembling an aircraft, fuselage sections are connected end to end to form the fuselage of the aircraft. The fuselage sections are essentially very large tubular portions. In order to properly assemble the fuselage sections and hence produce a generally seamless and smooth continuous surface for the fuselage, one of the end edges of a fuselage section may be manually machined to match the end edge of the adjacent fuselage section, before their end-to-end assembly. This machining is often handmade, and is required to have the corresponding end edges match, for a generally co-linear abutment .

[0004] The manual machining is a very lengthy procedure, relying on the personal skills of the machining operator to hand scribe and trim the component . The manual machining may involve manually measuring and marking a cut guide line around a circumference of the fuselage, as well as performing a free-hand cut and finishing the edge by filing and/or grinding. Alternatively, large tooling installations may be used to machine fuselage edges, such as the tooling installation described in European patent application no . EP 0 763 395.

SUMMARY OF THE APPLICATION

[0005] It is therefore an aim of the present disclosure to provide a guiding apparatus that addresses issues associated with the prior art.

[0006] It is a further aim of the present disclosure to use the guiding apparatus for cutting a fuselage edge in a manner addressing issues associated with the prior art .

[0007] Therefore, in accordance with a first embodiment of the present disclosure, there is provided a guiding apparatus for replicating the outline of a second component to a first component, the guiding device comprising: a gripping unit adapted to grippingly engage the first component; a guide unit adapted to contact an edge of the second component, the edge defining the outline to replicate; and a supporting unit adapted to receive a machining tool, the supporting unit orienting the machining tool, when such machining tool is installed, relative to the guide unit for concurrent movement of the guide unit and the machining tool along an axial direction of the first and second components while moving along the first component.

[0008] Further in accordance with the first embodiment, the gripping unit comprises at least one gripping member having at least an outer roller and an inner roller separated by a gap, at least one support block between the outer roller and the inner roller to bias the outer roller and the inner roller toward one another, the outer roller and an inner roller grippingly engaged to a wall of one of the first component by rollingly abutting against opposed surfaces of the wall.

[0009] Still further in accordance with the first embodiment, the rotation axes of the outer roller and the inner roller are parallel to a longitudinal axis of the first and second components.

[0010] Still further in accordance with the first embodiment, two said gripping members are in gripping engagement with the first component .

[0011] Still further in accordance with the first embodiment, the at least one gripping member comprises a pulley roller generally transversely oriented relative to the outer roller and the inner roller, and adapted to contact an end edge of the first component.

[0012] Still further in accordance with the first embodiment, the pulley roller has a peripheral groove for receiving a portion of the end edge.

[0013] Still further in accordance with the first embodiment, a support block biases the pulley roller against the end edge of the first component.

[0014] Still further in accordance with the first embodiment, an axis of rotation of the pulley roller of the at least one gripping member is oriented toward a centerline of the first component.

[0015] Still further in accordance with the first embodiment, the guide unit further comprises at least one roller oriented to be adapted to rollingly abut against the edge of the second component while the guiding apparatus moves circumferentially along the first component .

[0016] Still further in accordance with the first embodiment, a support block connects the roller to the carriage, the support block adapted to bias the roller a doubler of the second component.

[0017] Still further in accordance with the first embodiment, the guide unit comprises two said rollers.

[0018] Still further in accordance with the first embodiment, the axes of rotation of the two said rollers are parallel to one another. [0019] Still further in accordance with the first embodiment, the axes of rotation of the two said rollers converge to a centerline of the second component.

[0020] Still further in accordance with the first embodiment, a blade of the machining tool is aligned with a trailing one of the two said rollers when the guiding apparatus moves circumferentially along the edge.

[0021] Still further in accordance with the first embodiment, a handle is on the carriage, the handle having a grasping portion transversely positioned relative to the axial direction.

[0022] Still further in accordance with the first embodiment, a lockable joint is between the machining tool and the carriage to selectively adjust at least one of a position and an orientation of the machining tool relative to the carriage.

[0023] Still further in accordance with the first embodiment, the lockable joint comprises an arcuate slot in the carriage, and a threaded member and nut on the machining tool .

[0024] Still further in accordance with the first embodiment, the first and second components are tubular components, with the guiding apparatus moving circumferentially along the tubular components.

[0025] Still further in accordance with the first embodiment, the first and second components are aircraft fuselage sections.

[0026] Still further in accordance with the first embodiment, the machining tool is one of a cutting tool, a grinding tool, a trimming tool and a sawing tool.

[0027] In accordance with a second embodiment of the present disclosure, there is provided a method for replicating an outline of a second component to a first component comprising: grippingly engaging a guiding apparatus on the first component; abutting a guide unit of the guiding apparatus against an edge of the second component, the edge defining the outline to replicate; and moving the guiding apparatus with a machining tool thereon along the edge of the first component while the guide unit traces the edge of the second component to impart movement to the guiding apparatus in an axial direction of the first component.

[0028] Further in accordance with the second embodiment, grippingly engaging a guiding apparatus comprises sandwiching a wall of the first component between rollers for rolling engagement.

[0029] Still further in accordance with the second embodiment, grippingly engaging a guiding apparatus comprises abutting a pulley roller against an edge of the first component for rolling engagement.

[0030] Still further in accordance with the second embodiment, abutting a guide unit of the guiding apparatus against an edge of the second component comprises abutting at least one roller against the edge of the second component for rolling engagement .

[0031] Still further in accordance with the second embodiment, abutting a guide unit of the guiding apparatus against an edge of the second component comprises abutting a lateral face of the at least one roller against a doubler of the second component.

[0032] Still further in accordance with the second embodiment, at least one of a position and an orientation of the machining tool is adjusted on the guiding apparatus .

[0033] Still further in accordance with the second embodiment, an edge of the first component is machined with the machining tool when moving the guiding apparatus along the edge of the first component.

[0034] Still further in accordance with the second embodiment, the first and second components are tubular components, and wherein moving the guiding apparatus comprises moving the guiding apparatus circumferentially along the tubular components. [0035] Still further in accordance with the second embodiment, the first and second components are aircraft fuselage sections, and wherein moving the guiding apparatus comprises moving the guiding apparatus circumferentially along the aircraft fuselage sections.

[0036] In accordance with a third embodiment of the present disclosure, there is provided an apparatus for cutting a circumferential fuselage edge of a first fuselage section spaced apart from a second fuselage section, comprising: a gripping unit on the carriage for grippingly engaging the carriage to at least one of the fuselage sections; a cutting tool for cutting the circumferential fuselage edge of the first fuselage section; a guide unit adapted to contact a circumferential end edge of the second fuselage section while moving circumferentially along the end edge; and a carriage connected to the guide unit and to the cutting tool, the carriage orienting the cutting tool relative to the guide unit for concurrent movement of the guide unit and the cutting tool along an axial direction of the fuselage sections while moving circumferentially along the end edge.

[0037] Further in accordance with the third embodiment, the gripping unit comprises at least one gripping member having at least an outer roller and an inner roller separated by a gap, at least one support block between the outer roller and the inner roller to bias the outer roller and the inner roller toward one another, the outer roller and an inner roller grippingly engaged to a fuselage wall of one of the fuselage sections by rollingly abutting against opposed surfaces of the fuselage wall.

[0038] Still further in accordance with the third embodiment, the rotation axes of the outer roller and the inner roller are parallel to a longitudinal axis of the fuselage sections. [0039] Still further in accordance with the third embodiment, the two said gripping members are in gripping engagement with the first fuselage section.

[0040] Still further in accordance with the third embodiment, the at least one gripping member comprises a pulley roller generally transversely oriented relative to the outer roller and the inner roller, and adapted to contact the fuselage edge of the first fuselage section.

[0041] Still further in accordance with the third embodiment, the pulley roller has a peripheral groove for receiving a portion of the fuselage edge.

[0042] Still further in accordance with the third embodiment, a support block biases the pulley roller against the fuselage edge of the first fuselage section.

[0043] Still further in accordance with the third embodiment, an axis of rotation of the pulley roller of the at least one gripping member is oriented toward a centerline of the first fuselage section.

[0044] Still further in accordance with the third embodiment, the guide unit further comprises at least one roller oriented to be adapted to rollingly abut against the circumferential end edge of the second fuselage section while the apparatus moving circumferentially along the end edge.

[0045] Still further in accordance with the third embodiment, a support block connects the roller to the carriage, the support block adapted to bias the roller a doubler of the second fuselage section.

[0046] Still further in accordance with the third embodiment, the guide unit comprises two said rollers.

[0047] Still further in accordance with the third embodiment, the axes of rotation of the two said rollers are parallel to one another.

[0048] Still further in accordance with the third embodiment, the axes of rotation of the two said rollers converge to a centerline of the second fuselage section. [0049] Still further in accordance with the third embodiment, a blade of the cutting tool is aligned with a trailing one of the two said rollers when the apparatus moves circumferentially along the end edge.

[0050] Still further in accordance with the third embodiment, a handle is on the carriage, the handle having a grasping portion transversely positioned relative to the axial direction.

[0051 ] Still further in accordance with the third embodiment, a lockable joint is between the cutting tool and the carriage to selectively adjust at least one of a position and an orientation of the cutting tool relative to the carriage.

[0052] Still further in accordance with the third embodiment, the lockable joint comprises an arcuate slot in the carriage, and a threaded member and nut on the cutting tool.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

[0053] For a better understanding of the present invention, as well as other aspects and further features thereof, reference is made to the following description which is to be used in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, where:

[0054] Fig. 1 is a perspective view of a flight compartment and forward fuse fuselage section with a guiding apparatus in accordance with the present disclosure therebetween;

[0055] Fig. 2 is a perspective view of the guiding apparatus of Fig. 1, showing an underside thereof;

[0056] Fig. 3 is a side perspective view of the guiding apparatus of Fig. 1, from a cut fuselage section viewpoint; and

[0057] Fig. 4 is a side perspective view of the guiding apparatus of Fig. 1, from a guide fuselage section viewpoint. [0058] In the drawings, embodiments of the invention are illustrated by way of example. It is to be expressly understood that the description and drawings are only for purposes of illustration and as an aid to understanding. They are not intended to be a definition of the limits of the invention.

DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0059] Referring to the drawings, and more par ¬ ticularly to Fig. 1, there is illustrated at 10 an apparatus or tool for guiding a machining tool on a fuselage edge of a fuselage section. More specifically, a fuselage section A has a circumferential skin edge Al (i.e., a fuselage edge or end edge) over a doubler A2, and will serve as a guide for the guiding apparatus 10. As shown in Fig. 1, the fuselage section A may be a forward fuse fuselage section or may simply be generally straight. A fuselage section B is also shown, and is the flight compartment fuselage section. The fuselage section B has a circumferential fuselage edge Bl (i.e., an end edge) which is axially aligned with the fuselage section A, and is spaced apart therefrom by a gap (e.g., 5 inch gap) . For reference purposes, unless stated otherwise, an axial alignment refers to a longitudinal axis (i.e., the centerline) of the assembled fuselage, as generally shown at L. For instance, the fuselage sections A and B of Fig. 1 are held in the axial alignment by fuselage jigs (not shown) in a spaced apart relation. The jigs hold the fuselage portions A and B while the apparatus 10 is used in the manner described hereinafter to trim the fuselage edge Bl to match an outline of the fuselage edge Al (i.e., the skin edge Al) . When assembled, the fuselage edges Al and Bl are against one another in collinear relation, with the doubler A2 extending under the fuselage edge Bl .

[0060] Referring concurrently to Figs. 2-4, the apparatus 10 comprises a guide unit 12, a machining tool 13 installed on the apparatus 10 among other accessories or tools that may be releasably mounted onto the apparatus 10, a carriage 14, and a gripping unit 15.

[0061] The guide unit 12 contacts the skin edge Al of the fuselage section A while moving along the fuselage edge Al (i.e., the skin edge Al in the illustrated embodiment), to trace the fuselage edge Al .

[0062] The machining tool 13 is used in conjunction with the apparatus 10 and cuts the fuselage edge Bl of the fuselage section B as operated by an operator, to duplicate the fuselage edge Al traced by the guide unit

12.

[0063] The carriage 14 connects the guide unit 12 to the cutting tool 13. The carriage 14 orients the machining tool 13 relative to the guide unit 12 for concurrent movement of the guide unit 12 and the machining tool 13 along the alignment axis L of the fuselage, while the guide unit 12 and the machining tool

13 move circumferentially along the skin edge Al in direction C.

[0064] The gripping unit 15 is connected to the carriage 14, and is used to releasably attach the carriage 14 to one or both of the fuselage sections A and/or B.

[0065] In the illustrated embodiment, the guide unit

12 has a pair of rollers 20 mounted on shafts 21. Each of the roller 20/shaft 21 assembly has a support block 22 by which it is mounted to the apparatus 10, such that the rollers 20 may rotate about an axis of their respective shafts 21. The support blocks 22 may comprise a bearing (s) to allow rotation of the shafts 21, although the bearings may be between the rollers 20 and their respective shafts 21. The support blocks 22 may also enclose a biasing member, such as a helical spring, to bias the shafts 21 away from the support blocks 22, in such a way that the lateral faces of the rollers 20 remain in contact with the doubler A2 as shown in Fig. 4, with roll surfaces of the rollers 20 against the skin edge Al, when the apparatus 10 is attached to the fuselage sections A and/or B. The shafts 21 may be parallel or quasi-parallel to one another. In an embodiment, the axes of the shafts 21 converge toward a centerline of the fuselage, to facilitate the rolling of the rollers 20 along the skin edge Al .

[0066] Other embodiments are considered as alternatives to the assemblies of rollers 20/shafts 21/support blocks 22. For instance, gliding blocks made with a rigid low-resistance material (e.g., such as PTFE) may be the interface of the apparatus 10 with the fuselage section A instead of the rollers 20. In other words, the guide unit 12 has a tracing member (s) that contacts the fuselage edge that must be duplicated.

[0067] Still referring to Figs. 2-4, the machining tool 13 may be a cutting tool having a blade 30 operatively mounted to a body 31. The machining tool 13 can be fixed or removably connected to the guide unit 12. Such machining tool 13 might include a circular saw. The body 31 is of the type including a motor or like actuation means to operate the blade 30. The blade 30 may be any appropriate type of blade (circular, reciprocal, etc) or any other altering tool such as a grinding wheel, etc. In other words, the machining tool 13 may be of any appropriate type to cut, trim or otherwise alter the fuselage edge. A handle 32 may be connected to the body 31 to facilitate manipulation of the apparatus 10. A threaded fastener 33 may project laterally from the body 31, with a nut 34 (e.g., a cross- shaped nut) being screwable manually along the fastener 33, to attach the machining tool 13 to the carriage 14 as described hereinafter.

[0068] Still referring to Figs. 2-4, the carriage 14 has a support frame 40 that acts as a structural component for the various components of the apparatus 10. The support frame 40 is for instance made of a rigid material, such as metal, and may be cast, molded, bent, welded, etc. The support frame 40 is shown as having numerous plates or walls, and may alternatively consist of elongated frame members etc. In the illustrated embodiment, the support frame 40 comprises slots 42 by which the support blocks 22 may be connected to the support frame 40. The slots 42 are oriented to allow the rollers 20 to contact the skin edge Al in the manner shown in Fig. 4.

[0069] A handle 43 extends between the plates of the slots 42. The handle 43 may be used by an operator to displace the carriage 14 along the skin edge Al as the machining tool 13 is operated. In an embodiment, the operator has one hand on the handle 32 of the machining tool 13 and the other hand on the handle 43 of the carriage 40. The handle 43 may have a grasping portion generally transverse to the longitudinal axis L, and thus aligned with the direction C (Fig. 1) .

[0070] Connection plates 44 are provided on opposite sides of the carriage 14 to interface the machining tool

13 to the carriage 14. The apparatus 10 is illustrated as having a pair of the connection plates 44 for connection of the machining tool 13 to either side of the carriage 14, such that the apparatus 10 may be operated clockwise or counter clockwise to trim the fuselage section. However, it is considered to equip the carriage

14 with a single one of the connection plates 44. The connection plates 44 define abutment planes against which the machining tool 13 will be applied, and hence have a suitable structural integrity to ensure that the machining tool 13 may be rigidly connected to the carriage 14 to generally prevent play therebetween, despite the forces to which the carriage 14 is exposed. The connection plates 44 are generally transversally oriented relative to the longitudinal axis L of the fuselage. In an embodiment, the longitudinal axis L of the fuselage is normal to a plane in which the connection plates 44 lie.

[0071] The connection plates 44 may each define a channel 45. The channel 45 has an arcuate shape and is sized for the threaded fastener 33 to be threaded through to thereby form a joint, such that the nut 34 may be tightened to lock the body 31 of the tool 13 to the connection plate 44. The channels 45 are shown as having an arcuate shape, thereby allowing an adjustment of the orientation of the body 31 of the machining tool 13 relative to the carriage 14. The connection plates 44 represent one of the numerous configurations considered to connect the machining tool 13 to the carriage 14. The interrelation between the machining tool 13 and the carriage 14 may be a function of the type and shape of the machining tool 13. It is considered to have the machining tool 13 as an integral part of the carriage 14. Moreover, the machining tool 13 may be bolted, pinned, etc to the carriage 14. The machining tool 13 may thus be in a fixed relation relative to the axes of rotation of the rollers 20, i.e., the distance between the blade 30 and the axes of rotation of the rollers 20 remains unchanged throughout the cutting operation. As shown in Figs. 2 and 4, the blade 30 is axially aligned with one of the rollers 20 when the apparatus 10 performs the cutting operation. The blade 30 may be aligned with a trailing one of the rollers 20, namely, the roller 20 adjacent to an end of the carriage 14 when the carriage moves along direction C (Fig. 1) .

[0072] Referring concurrently to Figs. 2 and 3, the gripping unit 15 is shown in greater detail as having a pair of gripping members 50, although it is considered to use a single one of the gripping members 50 in the gripping unit 15. Each gripping member 50 comprises an outer grip roller 51 mounted to a shaft 52 and supported on the carriage 14 by a support block 53, and an inner grip roller 54 mounted to a shaft 55 and supported on the carriage 14 by a support block 56. The support blocks 53 and 56 concurrently perform a biasing action on the grip rollers 51 and 54 to bring them toward one another. By the biasing action, the fuselage wall is held sandwiched between the grip rollers 51 and 54 and hence the gripping members 50 are gripped to the fuselage wall. The grip rollers 51 and 54 may lie in a same plane. It is observed that the grip rollers 51 and 54 are further from the fuselage edge Bl than the blade 30, to allow the gripping engagement by the gripping unit 15 despite the cutting of the fuselage edge Bl by the machining tool 13.

[0073] Furthermore, each gripping member 50 may have a pulley roller 57 (with appropriate shaft and support block, not visible ) . The pulley roller 57 is aligned with the gap between the grip rollers 51 and 54, and is transversally oriented relative to the rollers 51 and 54. Accordingly, the pulley roller 57 contacts the fuselage edge Bl. The pulley roller 57 may also be biased against the fuselage edge Bl (i.e., biased to move in the plane in which the pulley roller 57 lies), to ensure a suitable gripping of the gripping member 50 to the fuselage section B. The pulley roller 57 may have a peripheral groove so as to accommodate the fuselage edge Bl, to reduce radial movement of the carriage 14 when moving along the fuselage edge Bl .

[0074] According to an embodiment, the rotation axes of the grip rollers 51 and 54 may be parallel or quasi- parallel to the longitudinal axis L of the fuselage, and hence parallel or quasi-parallel to one another. Moreover, the rotation axes of the grip rollers 51 and 54 may be normal to the rotation axes of the rollers 57. In an embodiment, the rotation axes of the rollers 57 converge toward a centerline of the fuselage, to facilitate the rolling of the rollers 57 along the fuselage edge Bl .

[0075] Although the gripping unit 15 is shown as gripping the apparatus 10 to the fuselage section B to be cut, it is also feasible to position the gripping unit 15 such that it grips onto the traced fuselage section A, or to both. For instance, another set of grip rollers 51 may be provided on the opposite side of the machining tool 13, such that the carriage 14 is supported by rollers 51 on both sections A and B (without rollers 54 and 57), so as to add additional rolling stability to the movement of the apparatus 10.

[0076] Other embodiments are considered as alternatives to the assemblies of rollers 51, 54 and 57. Gliding blocks made with a rigid low-resistance material (e.g., such as PTFE) may be the gripping engagement interface of the apparatus 10 with the fuselage section B instead of the rollers 51, 54 and 57.

[0077] Now that the various components of the apparatus 10 have been described, a method for cutting a fuselage edge of a first fuselage section is set forth.

[0078] In order for the method to be performed, the fuselage sections A and B are axially aligned and spaced apart in the manner shown in Fig. 1. As a fuselage jig may be used, the spacing or gap between the fuselage sections A and B is generally uniform.

[0079] A selected machining tool 13 is secured to the carriage 14 in the manner shown in Fig. 2, such that the machining tool 13 is rigidly secured to the carriage 14. For instance, the nut 34 may be tightened for the body 31 of the machining tool 13 to be brought into contact with the connection plate 44 of the carriage 14. An orientation of the machining tool 13 may be adjusted prior to the tightening, for example by moving the threaded fastener 33 along the channel 45, prior to the fastening .

[0080] As shown in Fig. 3, the carriage 14 is gripped to one of the fuselage sections. In the illustrated embodiment, the apparatus 10 is slid axially onto the wall of fuselage section B, with the rollers 51 and 54 of the gripping unit 15 on either sides of the fuselage wall. Because the rollers 51 and 54 are biased, they may be spaced apart to increase the gap temporarily, to facilitate the positioning of the apparatus 10 onto the fuselage section B.

[0081] Referring to Fig. 4, the apparatus 10 is displaced for the guide unit 12 to come into contact with the fuselage section A. More particularly, in the illustrated embodiment, the rollers 20 are abutted against the guide edge of the fuselage section A, namely the skin edge Al, for rolling contact therebetween. In the illustrated embodiment, the rollers 20 each have a lateral face lying against the doubler A2 in the manner shown in Fig. 4 . It is observed that the pulley rollers 57 of the gripping unit 15 may simultaneously be in rolling contact with the fuselage edge Bl .

[0082] As a result, the apparatus 10 is gripped to the fuselage section B by way of the gripping unit 15, while the guide unit 12 is in operative contact with a guide edge of the fuselage section A, namely the skin edge Al in Figs. 1 to 4. An orientation of the machining tool 13 may be adjusted at this point, for example by moving the threaded fastener 33 along the channel 45, prior to the fastening .

[0083] Referring to Fig. 1, the cutting (i.e., general expression encompassing trimming, grinding, machining, etc) may thus be performed. Referring to Fig. 1, the apparatus 10 is moved circumferentially along the edge of the fuselage section A with the machining tool 13 in operation, as shown by direction C. In doing so, the rollers 20 roll along the skin edge Al to trace the contour of the skin edge Al, causing movements of the carriage 14 along directions D, namely axial movements when referring to the longitudinal axis L of the fuselage. As the distance between the blade 30 of the machining tool 13 and the axes of rotation of the rollers 20 is fixed, the blade 30 will move axially concurrently with the carriage 14. As these movements are caused by the tracing of the outline of the guide edge (i.e., the skin edge Al), the machining tool 13 will replicate the contour of the outline of the guide edge when cutting the fuselage edge Bl .

[0084] Although the methods and apparatus are described in connection with the machining of aircraft fuselage sections, it is understood that the use of the apparatus is not limited thereto and that the use of the apparatus for the machining of any components to be assembled together is also encompassed (e.g., machining of pipes) .

[0085] While the methods and systems described herein have been described and shown with reference to particular steps performed in a particular order, it will be understood that these steps may be combined, sub ¬ divided or reordered to form an equivalent method without departing from the teachings of the present invention. Accordingly, the order and grouping of the steps is not a limitation of the present invention. For example, the machining tool 13 may be fixed to the carriage 14 after the carriage 14 has been gripped to the fuselage section.

[0086] Modifications and improvements to the above- described embodiments of the present invention may become apparent to those skilled in the art. The foregoing description is intended to be exemplary rather than limiting. For instance, while the above description refers to fuselage sections, the guiding apparatus 10 may be to used to replicate the outline of any one component to another component, such as tubular components for instance. The scope of the present invention is therefore intended to be limited solely by the scope of the appended claims.