Innovation potential & Expected impact

Innovation Potential of ComBoNDT

In order to replace metallic assembly concepts for load-critical primary structures, innovative materials like CFRP and innovative joining technologies like adhesive bonding are indispensable in order to be accepted and certified for conventional use. In order to ensure a reliable adhesive bonding for CFRP primary structures, it is indispensable to consider all production aspects. The most important aspect is the pre-and post-process assessment of the quality of adhered surfaces and joints.

Up to now, there is no possibility to fulfill these aspects with conventional NDT tools. Innovative, extended NDT (ENDT) tools are necessary in order to enable an overall quality assurance concept for adhesive bonding like the detection of multiple contaminants, kissing bonds and bond weakening.

Within the ComBoNDT project, ENDT tools will be further developed and improved in order to reach a technological level that is directly useful for actual application in the European aircraft industry. Only the availability of ENDT tools will allow the adequate and extensive use of adhesive bonding for load-critical CFRP primary aircraft structures and, at the same time, the efficient implementations of innovative materials like CFRPs. This will lead to savings regarding costs, time, weight and fuel.

Within ComBoNDT, the main focus lies on the development of ENDT techniques for the inspection of surfaces and bonded CFRP structures to reach a TRL of 5 to 6 and will be a very important step towards the use of these surface and structural health inspection tools in industrial production and service applications.

Only with time-efficient and reliable quality assurance concepts for safety-related aircraft structures, increased use of lightweight CFRP can be realized for aircraft design. Furthermore, increased safety in combination with improved environmental performance can also be described as an innovation potential of the ComBoNDT project. Reduced direct operation costs as a result of increased integration of CFRP composite structures guarantee for the worldwide competitiveness of the European aircraft sector.

Expected Impact

The innovations aimed within ComBoNDT will have strong technical impacts regarding the knowledge about highly integrated lightweight CFRP structures in all aerospace applications and necessary certifications.

Due to the development of reliable ENDT, the increased integration of innovative materials will be enabled. Automated measuring processes giving valuable results in combination with strong signal evaluation processes will provide surface and structural health data and contribute significantly to the reduction of human errors. Novel light-weight design of CFRP structural components will be possible and will lead to weight savings (up to 15%) of the aircraft. Even further weight savings are expected for CFRP integration in interior design and system components. Additionally the delivery of new, reliable ENDT techniques improves the safety and operational capability of aircraft, leading to increased operational life.

The major socio-economic impact of the ComBoNDT project will be the reinforcement of the competitiveness of Europe’s aircraft industry and European aircraft operators. According to the AeroSpace and Defence Industries Association of Europe (ASD), the Aeronautics turnover level represents 140.5 billion euro in 2014 compared to 138.4 billion euro in 2013, while employment in ASD industries reached 794,695 in 2014, which represents an overall increase of 2.2% in comparison with 2013. Both the aircraft production and airline operation industries are active on the most globalized markets therefore the conservation and future expansion of employment will necessitate a highly increased competitiveness.

The project results will play a key role in addressing this issue, both by generating added product value for aircraft manufacturers and reduced cost and time investments for production and ground operations. Additionally, the project will contribute to the development of high technology SMEs, where job opportunities will be developed for the final industrialization of ENDT techniques, as well as to future market entry within Europe. Another important aspect will be the increased safety resulting from more reliable components and processes. This is one of the major criteria for the European aerospace industry in order to belong to the market leaders within this business sector.

Through enabling the full potential of CFRP lightweight material resulting in a considerable reduction of weight and thus, fuel consumption and a life extension of ageing aircraft, greening of aircraft maintenance is achieved, thus helping in reduction of the environmental impact of aviation. Considering that approximately 600Kg of CO2 are emitted per kilowatt-hour of energy generated by fossil fuels with existing technology, it is calculated that several thousands of tons of CO2 emissions could be saved fper year.

The environmental benefits are expected to be derived mainly from the following factors:

  • Reduction of energy required for the performance of the inspection
  • Reduction of energy required for manufacturing of replaced parts
  • Reduction of energy required for manufacturing of primary structures
  • Reduction of weight and thus, CO2-emissions

Furthermore, ENDT tools for continuous quality assurance of surfaces and bonded structures, pre- and post-bonded, will contribute to the reduction of scrap rates. Reduced wastes from the aircraft production and subsequent processes, as well as the reduction of emission of air pollutants, will contribute to a great extend to the greening of air transport.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 636494.

This project is endorsed by the European Aeronautics Science Network - EASN.

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