Aeroplanes are becoming safer every year, with the advent of better diagnostic tools, new technologies and lightweight materials. Yet challenges remain, such as overcoming the shrapnel from bursting engines that could pose a significant threat to an aeroplane in flight. In this context, the EU-funded IMPSHIELDC (Impact shield design C) project looked at ways to overcome this particular challenge. It elaborated three design concepts to protect critical aircraft components from burning shrapnel, looking at how impact shielding can be integrated with the fuselage and other structures at risk. To maintain the lightweight requirements for modern aircraft yet still achieve the desired shielding capabilities, the project team considered high-tech fibres and novel low-cost manufacturing methods. It conducted tests on different materials and working on the three different designs, in addition to planning the production of the samples. This led to the manufacture of the panels after having established the best materials and specifications. The endeavour was achieved under the EU's Clean Sky programme, which was established to advance significantly more eco-friendly air transport driven by novel engine and aircraft concepts. Overall, IMPSHIELDC advanced Clean Sky through better understanding of impact shielding and its manufacture for different environments. It yielded a prototype structure based on high-performance fibres to achieve maximal ballistic shielding on aeroplanes and raise the bar on safety in European aviation. The knowledge generated in the project has become very important in supporting the aims of related concurrent and future projects such as IMPTEST. In addition to enhanced safety and the possibility of saving lives in dangerous situations, the generated knowledge is set to create a more competitive aviation industry and maintain Europe's primacy in the field.
Aeroplanes, shrapnel, IMPSHIELDC, engines, shielding, aviation