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R&D Program. CFRP Aeronautical Components Repairs


Through the ALCAS (Advanced Low Cost Aircraft Structures) R&D program, Airbus is developing the technology needed to build an aircraft of the future – lighter and more efficient – that is completely manufactured of composite materials.

Within the program, Airbus devoted a phase of the project to the study of carbon fiber components repair. This phase consisted of conducting a series of mechanical tests on CFRP (carbon fiber reinforced plastic) parts subjected to various types of damage and repairs.

To carry out this test program Airbus required a specialized partner, with extensive know-how and experience in managing and performing mechanical testing of large-size CFRP components.

Applus+ solutions

Applus+, thanks to the experience it acquired as an officially-validated Airbus laboratory for testing structural mechanics down to the component level and in being a Nadcap-accredited laboratory for the testing of composite materials, became Airbus's partner for conducting the testing.

The Applus+ team managed and carried out the testing at its mechanical testing laboratory at Bellaterra (Barcelona), one of the few laboratories in Europe specialized in high-load aeronautical trials.

The workpackage provided by Applus+ consisted of:

  • Management and manipulation of carbon fiber components in accordance with Airbus procedures
  • Design and construction of equipment for entering a load onto CFRP components
  • Design and installation of the data acquisition system (MGC+, ARAMIS, sonic chamber)
  • Final RIG assembly at the testing facility
  • Mechanization of fiber components in accordance with aeronautical procedures
  • Carrying out a test in the 15MN (1500 tonne) universal machine, the only one officially validated in Europe for Airbus
  • Ultrasonic non-destructive inspection of the damages and repairs to the fiber components
  • Post-processing of the acquired data, interpretation of results and preparation of the technical conclusions report

The project had a duration of 6 months and involved a team of 20 people (project leader, designers, aeronautical engineers, experts in data acquisition, equipment makers and experts in the manipulation of CFRP components).

Advantages for our customer

  • The close cooperation between Applus+ and Airbus has allowed the latter to successfully complete this critical phase of the ALCAS project, obtaining the results required by the R&D program.
  • The complexity of the project lay in the large size of the parts to be tested (up to 4 meters) under loads of up to 10MN, as well as the fact that these components were manufactured out of CFRP.
  • Through these results, Airbus has increased its knowledge of CFRP aircraft components, allowing it to progress in its development of lighter and more efficient aircraft.
  • For its part, Applus+ has managed to further expand its expertise in managing large aeronautical trials.
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