Extending useful life of aircraft, increase their reliability and reduce repair costs
March 24, 2009 – Scientists are developing a new technology for repairing aircraft by means of composite patches applied to both aluminium and to the new generation of compound materials aircraft.
Scientists are developing a new technology for repairing aircraft by
means of composite patches applied to both aluminium and to the new
generation of compound materials aircraft. The goal of the project is
to extend the life of the aircraft, increase their reliability and
reduce the costs of repairs.
Matter & Energy
* Materials Science
* Civil Engineering
* Weapons Technology
* Materials science
* Tissue engineering
* Military aviation
Approximately 30% of the world’s fleet of commercial aircraft is more
than 15 years old, with the consequent ageing of the craft structure,
due to corrosion and fatigue. Given this situation, there is an
inherent need to ensure navigatability and prolong their service life.
Also, the introduction of new materials, such as composite materials,
into the primary structures of aeroplanes – for example, the A380 and
the future B787 -, has created the need to develop new, more exigent
technologies that facilitate the substituting of damaged areas of the
In this context of needing to depend on reliable and economically
viable methodologies and technologies of repair and maintenance, the
European IAPETUS 7th Framework Programme project, led by TECNALIA,
arose. The project is developing a new technology for the repair of
aircraft made of aluminium and of the new generation of composite
materials, with the goal of it being applied in the European
aeronautics industry. Thanks to this work, new, multifunctional
composite materials are introduced, using carbon nanotubes, both into
the matrix of the composite material as well as into the adhesive; thus
achieving an easy, reliable and economically viable repair.
The nano-phase will improve the tenacity of the fracture and the
fatigue of the composite. Also, it is expected that the nanotubes will
confer the necessary electrical conductivity to the join between the
damaged component and the patch, in order to obtain the uniform
hardening of the polymer matrix: this can be produced by the polymer
matrix through heating by induction or electrical resistance and which
confers a conducting and sensor nature to the repair patch in order for
in-service faults to be detected.
The Programme consortium is made up of a variety of centres of a
multidisciplinary nature, thus all areas of the know-how necessary to
assure the success of the project being covered. A total of 10
companies from France, Greece, Poland, the United Kingdom, Switzerland
and Spain are represented: aeronautic structures and component
manufacturers DAHER Aerospace, Hellenic Aerospace Industry and
PZL-Swidnik SA); repair technologies’ equipment (GMI Aero); resins for
composite materials (Hurtsman Advanced Materials), as well as a number
of universities (Patras, Ioannina and Sheffield) and technological
centres, (INASCO and INASMET-Tecnalia). TECNALIA’s mission, apart from
project leader, will be to develop the hardening materials and
techniques and those for fault detection.
Adapted from materials provided by Basque Research.
Basque Research (2009, March 23). New Patch: Extending Useful Life Of
Aircraft, Increase Their Reliability And Reduce Repair Costs.
ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 24, 2009, from