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COmposite repair solutions for aeronautical BUSiness development – Phase 1

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - COLOMBUS-1 (COmposite repair solutions for aeronautical BUSiness development – Phase 1)

Reporting period: 2015-01-01 to 2015-06-30

GMI is in Europe the leading SME in the composite repair solutions sector, having since 25 years investigated, analyzed, studied and developed all the methodologies and associated equipment for aircraft composite maintenance and repair. To ensure excellence, during the last 15 years GMI has also invested very significant effort and resources in order to participate in several EU co-funded R&D Projects, focusing on the development of very innovative composite repair solutions. As a re-sult, today GMI possesses in its portfolio the innovations deriving from more than 15 R&D projects, focusing in composite repair. In consequence, the company is presently backed by a high value technological asset and a long established reputation. GMI objectives are thus to benefit from these two converging factors, in order to expand GMI position in the aeronautical market and closely related industrial sectors, i.e. to grow through innovation.

GMI intends to exploit the business opportunity by developing four (4) high-technology products tailored to the rapidly growing needs for composite repair equipment solutions of the aeronautical industry, as follows:
a. ADVANCED: Heating system for very large (>2m2) composite parts (e.g. A380 reverser).
b. CONDUCTOR: Heating blankets for resin curing that fit a contoured surface; easy cutting with scissors of a rolled developed innovative material.
c. OLGA: Innovative system for in-situ positive pressure application up to +2bars for repair of thick primary composite structures, such as Airbus 350 / Boeing 787 fuselage.
d. MAGNASENSE: Bonded composite repair patches with embedded magnetostrictive sensors, enabling subsequent SHM of critical composite aircraft structures, addressing current and future repair challenges.

According to the results of COLOMBUS-1, as presented in this Deliverable, it turns out that, at this phase, only three (3) out of the four (4) proposed products (namely ADVANCED, CONDUCTOR and OLGA) must be retained and put to the market, considering the effort required for the remain-ing demonstration activities, the expected market share and the Return On Investment period. For those three (3) products high potential in terms of GMI competitiveness and growth has been demonstrated within COLOMBUS-1 and a clear, measurable and realistic business plan has been developed. As a result, it has been decided that a follow up project, namely COLOMBUS-2, will be prepared and submitted to EU. COLOMBUS-2 will include all the required innovation and support activities that need to be performed for the materialization of GMI plan: demonstration, testing, pro-totyping, piloting, scaling-up, miniaturization, design, market replication etc. These activities will foster the development of the three (3) proposed breakthrough products, while enabling increase of their Technology Readiness Level (TRL) and industrial readiness for market introduction.
To enable the materialization of GMI strategic plan, the “COmposite repair solutions for aeronautical BUSiness development – Phase 1” has been submitted within H2020-SMEInst-1-2014 and au-thorized for funding by EU. Within this Phase 1, a feasibility study has been performed, in order to examine technological, practical and economic viability of GMI vision to “grow through innovation”, namely through the development and promotion to the market of the four (4) innovative products mentioned above (ADVANCED, CONDUCTOR, OLGA, MAGNASENSE). To this end, two (2) external Business Development experts have been employed and worked in close cooperation with existing GMI managerial and technical personnel. The external experts together with GMI personnel have contacted and visited several personalities, leading managers of MROs or constructors, to collect their views on the future of composite structure repairs and on the techniques they foresee in the next coming years with new aircraft (Airbus A350, Boeing 787 etc.). We have presented them our innovations and gathered their reactions and advice. A detailed market study was performed, including risk assessment, in order to verify the feasibility of the concept and the possibility to subsequently establish a solid high-potential innovation project, aligned to GMI strategy and with a European dimension. Intellectual Property (IP) management, innovation strategy development and partner search were equally treated, while bottlenecks in the ability to increase GMI profitability were detected.
COLOMBUS novelty consists in the combination of recent scientific developments to address aeronautical and other relevant markets’ requirements of the same technological area (i.e. composite repair), through the development of appropriate innovative solutions, as analyzed within the previous Paragraph. Together with direct sales of the above mentioned equipment and solutions, a variety of related support services will be developed and provided to customers (e.g. training, consulting, certification support, logistics, consumables resales, special repair application and support etc). It is believed that using GMI “technological background”, as developed through several R&D projects in the composite repair sector, in order to produce innovative products and services for various markets in the same technological area, economies of scale in GMI product development and manufacturing costs will be achieved, leading to more competitive and technically superior products and services, compared to competition. Apart from the aviation industry, where GMI is already a major player, business opportunities in the rail, road and maritime markets will be addressed, while wind-turbine industry and off-shore platforms, where GMI commercial activities are presently limited, will be “attacked”. Given the advantages mentioned above, a sustainable increase of turnover of more than 20% per annum (p.a.) is expected for the next 10 years, following the implementation of COLOMBUS-2 project, which adequately justifies the worth of the investment.