Composites are lighter and more durable than the materials traditionally used in aircraft construction. The expertise in this field by way of various research programmes in Europe has extended substantially the last decade.

Composite materials, consisting of durable woven fibres set in a matrix and manufactured by automated fibre placement, have great economic potential in the aviation industry. Little is known about these synthetic materials, however, particularly when it comes to material characteristics. Ongoing comprehensive research is therefore required to ensure safe and innovative application of composites.

EREA members have assessed whether a special fibre placed weave pattern in composites can improve the durability of this material. The problem with ordinary composites is that they tend to delaminate when they are subjected to sudden stress exerted during foreign object impact or heavy landings. This may harm internal fibres without necessarily causing visible exterior damage.

Initial tests revealed that the desired durability can be achieved with a special weave pattern, which has the added advantage that less of the material is required. This would potentially reduce weight by 10%.
Another study assessed the possibility of creating reversible adhesive bonds between composite components. This would have major advantages over traditional laminated joints or those using rivets or bolts. These innovative bonds would allow repeatedly assembly and disassembly of components, which may be a cost effective manufacturing concept and could increase the level of recyclability of bonded structures.