In the daily operation of aircraft, small-scale damage caused by ground vehicles is practically inevitable. As more composite materials are used to build aircraft, researchers are developing digitally supported, automated repair processes for these materials. EADS is now examining how to keep aircraft flying with high-quality repairs to damaged areas – a process that involves different knowledge and technology than that currently used for metallic airframes. As part of a three-year project, EADS Innovation Works is working with Eurocopter, Cassidian and leading maintenance, repair and overhaul service providers to develop a digitally supported, automated repair process.
Funded by the German Ministry of Industry, this goal of the project is to create a gap-free, industrialized repair process that brings together steps including the photographic determination of damage using digital stereo cameras, ultrasonic inspection, robotic milling and patching – all in a mobile system. As a result, the process would be robust, repeatable and certifiable for use by the world’s civil airworthiness authorities.
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Thanks to this new automated process, Eurocopter can further improve its ability to service and support its more than 2,800 customers, who fly nearly 11,000 helicopters in 147 countries.