Fatigue fixer

A new material could be used to make aircraft wings that are almost immune to metal fatigue.

A new material could be used to make aircraft wings that are almost  immune to metal fatigue.

Partly developed at Delft University of Technology, the unusual qualities of the material (called CentrAl, an abbreviation of Central Reinforced Aluminium) could, it’s developers claim, make a significant contribution to the development of truly energy-efficient, ‘green’ aircraft.

Items made using the CentrAl material are stronger than the carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) materials that have recently been used to build some aircraft wings, such as those on the Boeing 787.

The Delft developers also claim that, if the CentrAl material was used to build a wing, its weight could be 20 per cent lower than a comparable wing made from CFRP.

The CentrAl concept comprises a central layer of fibre metal laminate, sandwiched between one or more thick layers of high-quality aluminium. Simple repairs can be carried out immediately on the material, which is also the case with aluminium, but not with CFRP.

This patented concept is one of the results of a collaboration between GTM Advanced Structures, Alcoa, and the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering of Delft University of Technology.