Closer Look on the Innovations in Aerospace Technology

0 Comments

aviation technology

Over the past few years, the aerospace industry has seen countless innovations coming to fruition with many more on the horizon. In fact, the most awesome aerospace innovations of the past years aren’t just cool contraptions designed to cruise through air and space at breakneck speeds. They are small glimpses of what might dominate in the future.

The recent studies from an experimental craft that could help usher in a new period of quiet supersonic flight to a drone destined to fly on Mars, these machines are made to push the edges of our engineering envelopes. These cool and mind-bending innovations are bringing engines and humanity to new heights. Let’s take a look at the three emerging technologies you’ll want to know about!

  • New Advanced Materials and AI-based Design Strategies

We’re in the middle of an engineering revolution thanks to the convergence of three technologies: AI-drive designs, additive manufacturing, and new materials. The best case for this is the new bulkhead panel for the A320 family of aircraft. The panel’s structure looks unlike anything a conventional aerospace engineer would design. Why? Because the structure was designed by an artificial intelligence-powered system, which looked at millions of design solutions to find the one that best satisfied the design constraints for fit, function, cost, weight, and strength.

airbus a320 structure design

Such delicate designs would be difficult to manufacture by conventional means. This is where additive manufacturing technologies (commonly known as 3D printing) come into play. And you might be thinking that 3D printers can only use plastic, well, metals are now commonly used in 3D printing.

New materials are also helping revive old technologies. Materials such as graphene and carbon nanotubes are helping to make airplane wings more efficient by reducing weight and fuel consumption. Using these, scientists at MIT and NASA have developed a “morphing” wing that could also lead to more efficient manufacturing processes due to a system of tiny, lightweight subunits that can be assembled by specialized robots.

  • Advanced Space Propulsion Technologies

NASA has been investigating the implications of an all-electric propulsion system toward what calls Distributed Electric Propulsion for several years now. Then as it turns out, lightweight electric motors allow aerospace engineers to rethink the engine configurations. As a result, they may look much different than conventional configurations with either two or four jet engines mounted under the main wing. 

Advanced Propulsion and Power

It is all thanks to the relatively lightweight of electric motors, NASA aerospace engineers have proposed mounting a whole series of small propulsion units along the wing, a configuration that offers more flexibility in managing the airflow over the wing’s control surfaces. 

A new, plasma-based rocket propulsion technology known as the VASIMR® rocket (Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket) has been in development by NASA, together with the Department of Energy and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, for several years now. This new technology is expected to reduce fuel consumption and enable long-term space missions in the future. 

  • Self-Diagnostic and Self-Healing Materials

Advanced health management systems – such as monitoring, repairing, and overhauling are being developed to enhance our ability to analyze and determine the status of an aircraft. With more than eight decades of experience repairing and maintaining metal fuselage aircraft, the industry has developed a range of sophisticated Non-Destructive Inspection (NDI) techniques, such as magnaflux and x-ray based procedures. 

This technology has already been used upon the introduction of Boeing 787 and Airbus A350 aircraft, both of which use carbon-fiber material for the majority of the external mainframe. A fire that hit Boeing 787 put this technology to test, the aircraft successfully performed a major “splice” repair to the carbon fiber structure and brought the craft back into service.

For the self-healing aspect, material scientists are looking at ways to embed “reserve” materials inside carbon fiber structures that can be “activated” by applying heat. Then for self-inspections, the same scientists are also looking at new embedded Structural Health Monitoring (SHM) sensors that can identify structural problems in both conventional metal-based structures as well as composite materials.

Conclusion 

On a daily basis, new technologies and manufacturing processes are being developed. More and more joint ventures and outsourcing are expected to occur in the next five to ten years as these emerging markets start to compete on a global scale.

Tags:

Recent Posts

Tags

RSS Engineering on New Technologies

  • Cabinet briefed on SAA business rescue, DPE assures on anti-graft actions at airline December 4, 2020
    In a statement issued on Friday, the South African Cabinet reported that, at its virtual meeting on Wednesday, it had been briefed on the business rescue plan for State-owned national flag carrier South African Airways (SAA). In September the government committed itself to provide R10.5-billion to back the business rescue plan for, and the restructuring […]
  • Retiring Glasenberg handing over Glencore reins to Gary Nagle December 4, 2020
    Glencore CEO Ivan Glasenberg announced on Friday that he would be handing over the reins of the global mining and marketing company in mid-2021 to top Glencore executive Gary Nagle, who has served the company for 20 years and is well-known in South Africa for his part in running Glencore’s ferroalloys business. Mining Weekly can report […]
  • Telkom CFO Molefe resigns December 4, 2020
    South African mobile network operator Telkom SA said on Friday Tsholofelo Molefe has resigned as the group CFO to pursue other interests. Dirk Reyneke, current CFO of Openserve - the wholesale connectivity division of Telkom - will take over the position of acting group CFO, effective December 7, Telkom said.
  • Eskom business investment competition entries open December 4, 2020
    State-owned power utility Eskom has opened entries for its Development Foundation’s business investment competition (BIC). The BIC is open to registered black-owned small and medium-sized enterprises in South Africa that have been operating for 24 months or longer. Enterprises operating in the manufacturing, engineering/construction, trade/services and agriculture sectors can enter the competition.
  • Glencore spells out emission-reduction pathway to 2050 December 4, 2020
    Diversified mining and marketing company Glencore on Friday announced its ambition to be a net-zero emissions company by 2050. Glencore set out the pathway towards reducing its total emissions footprint by 40% by 2035, taking in Scope 1, 2 and 3.
  • Sanral shares details on Eastern Cape road upgrades December 4, 2020
    The South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) is planning major road upgrade projects for the King Sabata Dalindyebo (KSD) local municipality, including upgrading and widening of the R61, and upgrading of the N2 from Viedgesville to Mthatha into a dual carriageway. Sanral southern region regional manager Mbulelo Peterson said this week that Sanral had initiated a […]
  • Metair still expects lower full-year output, but green shoots are showing December 4, 2020
    As automotive component manufacturer Metair anticipates a full-year decline of 30% in South African production volumes this year, the company remains committed to new model launch projects and overall sustainability of models, markets, projects and customers. Planned model launches and facelifts already had a positive effect in the second half of 2020, the JSE-listed company […]
  • E Cape govt launches summer tourism campaign amid escalating Covid-19 infections December 4, 2020
    Despite spiking Covid-19 infections in the Eastern Cape, the province’s tourism department is gearing up to welcome tourists this summer. Finance, Economic Affairs and Tourism MEC Mlungisi Mvoko launched a travel and tourism activation, in Coffee Bay, on Friday, under the theme ‘Experience Summer Differently’.
  • Public hearing participant questions Nersa mandate in evolving electricity market December 4, 2020
    The National Energy Regulator of South Africa was outdated, and regulation changes were needed to bring it in line with current trends, the only respondent to public hearings into gold miner Gold Fields' application to build a 40 MW solar plant near its mine in Westonaria said on Thursday. Brian Day, of Today Innovation, said at […]
  • Grindrod Shipping extends IVS Pinehurst charter-in period December 4, 2020
    Dual-listed Grindrod Shipping has agreed to extend the firm charter-in period of the 2015-built supramax drybulk vessel IVS Pinehurst for 11 to 13 months, starting from November 15. The company has a further option to extend the charter for an additional 11 to 13 months and retains the existing purchase option to acquire the vessel […]