BIONIC Aircraft project has recently finished. This is the acronym of Increasing resource efficiency of aviation through implementation of ALM technology and bionic design in all stages of an aircraft life cycle, and its budget was €7.9million, being funded by the European Commission thanks to Horizon2020 program.
The general goal of the project was increasing the efficiency of the resources when manufacturing airplanes, fostering the intensive use of Additive Layer Manufacturing (ALM) techniques. This technology will allow reducing emissions during the flights due to the weight saving when using complex geometry, light and high resistance parts. This kind of parts, also called Bionic parts, avoid wasting raw material because no classical machining techniques are needed for their development.
In this Project, Tecnalia´s Computer Vision Team tackled a task with the aim of asset the quality control of those new bionic parts during their use, this is also called in-service conditions. It is considered that those novel bionic parts will also require novel inspection processes during the maintenance stops of the aircraft. To carry out this task, in a first stage a severity map was finished, so as to identify which kind of, both internal and external, cracks could appear in different areas of the geometry. A screening task was also considered, trying to select the most suitable technologies to cope each kind of defect in any area of the part.
For internal cracks identification, the ultrasonic technology was considered as the most promising one. When carrying out tests under laboratory conditions, Tecnalia´s experts used both single element transducer and specific designed phased array ultrasonic transducers. A different strategy was considered for external cracks. For this challenge, the computer vision technology was selected; specifically, a 2-dimensional matrix camera inspection by means of diffuse dome lighting strategy. Both technologies achieved their goals, whereas a new challenge must be tackled, as is repeating previous tests under real in-service conditions, due to potentials constraints regarding accessibility to the sample, located inside the wing. As the final act of the project, both project investigators and also external experts took part in a diffusion event at Fraunhofer Technological Centre, in Germany.