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Sensing danger before it strikes

The aerospace sector is committed to reducing costs and enhancing safety. Novel sensor technology for continuous monitoring of structural integrity is making both of these goals possible.

Industrial Technologies

Structural health monitoring (SHM) refers to technologies used to continuously assess the structural integrity of components and systems using integrated sensors. Rather than conduct arbitrarily timed inspections, this condition-based maintenance approach can significantly reduce costs and enhance safety. SHM has become an important area of research and development in the aerospace sector. The Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) project 'Aircraft integrated structural health assessment' (AISHA) established the basic elements of an ultrasonic Lamb wave-based SHM system. To overcome challenges around signal interpretation and durable sensor connections, another EU-funded project called 'Aircraft integrated structural health assessment II' (AISHA II) was initiated. Scientists introduced new methods like percolation conductivity, ultrasonic time-of-arrival methods, non-linear ultrasound, pseudo-defects and electrochemical impedance spectroscopy. A partnership with leading maintenance company made it possible to equip three operational airliners with percolation sensors. At the International Workshop of Structural Health Monitoring at the University of Stanford, this improved technology earned the 'Most practical SHM application in aerospace' award. AISHA II successfully delivered novel SHM technology for the aerospace community and beyond. Commercialisation will have important impacts on aerospace safety, costs and competitiveness, with applications for other fields also expected. Please see:

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