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FOS3D — Result In Brief

Project ID: 271853
Funded under: FP7-JTI

Fibre optic sensors for morphing wings

Future aircraft are scheduled to have wing structures that change geometry to reduce drag. EU-funded scientists are developing fibre optic (FO) technology that will simultaneously aid in deflection control and the monitoring of structural integrity.
Fibre optic sensors for morphing wings
The EU's Clean Sky initiative for greener aircraft includes the Smart Fixed Wing Aircraft (SFWA) concept employing morphing wing structures to reduce drag. The EU-funded project 'Fiber optic system for deflection and damage detection' (FOS3D) is developing embeddable FO sensor technology for such composite morphing wings.

Deflection information will be passed on to the piezoelectric shape memory alloy actuators for closed loop feedback control of deflection. The non-destructive testing system will use acoustic emission (AE) technology for early detection of the existence, location and size of damage as well as monitor damage propagation.

To date, scientists have analysed three different materials and geometries, simulating the behaviour of morphing wings to calculate their strain distributions along the FO sensor. Different shapes of FO sensors have also been investigated experimentally for measurement range and resolution. Experimental work has been fully complemented by simulation with finite element method models to investigate ultrasonic wave propagation by a simulated AE event.

First tests of sensor performance in one of the three geometries (a carbon fibre-reinforced plastic panel) confirmed model predictions regarding the range of measureable deformation. Tests also demonstrated the FO sensor's capability to measure deflection and AE events at the same time.

Future aircraft may soon be sporting self-sensing composites employing low-cost and lightweight FO sensors. Simultaneous measurement of the deflection of morphing wings with structural health monitoring of related structures during morphing will reduce fuel consumption and emissions while enhancing safety. Significant reductions in operational and maintenance costs will have important impact on the competitiveness of the EU aerospace industry as well.

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