Application of Additive Metal Technology to Operational Aircraft
Additive manufacturing to address corrosion in operational aircraft
Metal damage particularly corrosion and stress-corrosion is endemic to operational aircraft. This is currently addressed using a find and fix approach, where if the damage exceeds a certain size, major repair is required. This results in extended aircraft downtime or scrapping of the section.
In collaboration with RMIT University, RUAG Australia aims to develop an additive manufacturing process to address corrosion and stress-corrosion damage affecting the structural integrity of components in operational aircraft.
By exploring geometry restoration via additive metal processes the research teams aims to overcome problems associated with corrosion/cracks in wing planks without the need for traditional major structural repair or component replacement. The process would allow parts to be repaired without removal and transport back to a central maintenance facility. The additive manufacturing technology would be located at the base/hanger where the operator would fix the part whilst still on the aircraft. This is an important outcome for Australia where aircraft needing repair are often remotely based from repair facilities and OEM’s, which reduces revenue and operational readiness.
If successful this project will open the door for RUAG Australia and its partners to extend the technology to address Australia’s and the worlds challenges with metal degradation with a technology that has no serious rival and has already been shown to have potential in this area.