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Content archived on 2024-06-18

Smart Intelligent Aircraft Structures

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Lowering air travel costs thanks to smart materials

An EU initiative is developing intelligent design techniques that can seamlessly change the shape of an aircraft's wings. Combined with technologies enabling self-sensing structures and Nanocomposites, this has the potential to reduce development time and costs in manufacturing and operations.

Industrial Technologies icon Industrial Technologies

Smart intelligent structures can offer significant savings in an aircraft's total weight, manufacturing and operational costs, but they pose practical challenges. Overcoming these difficulties is the aim of the EU-funded SARISTU (Smart intelligent aircraft structures) project. Researchers seek to demonstrate through testing that individual shaping or morphing concepts are structures that can be achieved on a full-size external wing. Furthermore, engineers are integrating complex sensor networks and employing Nanocomposites on major test pieces. As the project enters its final year, design activities for the major wing and fuselage demonstrations were completed. Wing and fuselage related integration and testing continue. The main demonstrator parts manufacturing has been launched in SARISTU’s third year following completion of major smaller scale test series. Morphing technologies employed at the wing leading edge, trailing edge and winglet have been verified at sub-assembly level and are moving up for verification at assembly level. Damage detection testing for the self-sensing fuselage demonstrator has begun. The door surround structure parts were manufactured and are awaiting final assembly. Through validation, project partners were able to limit the cost of integrating structural health monitoring systems into the manufacturing chain. This reduces in-service inspection costs by up to 1 %. In its fourth and final year, SARISTU will continue to evaluate the interface between diverse technological solutions and their collective impact on aircraft, particularly through wing and fuselage demonstrations. In doing so, it will reduce aircraft weight, operational costs and noise, and enhance aerodynamic performance.


Smart materials, intelligent design, aircraft structures, morphing concepts, aerodynamic performance, Structural Health Monitoring, Nanocomposites

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