Applications > Aerospace
Aerospace industry applications represent ideal opportunities to exploit the novel advantages of optical fibre sensing, such as:
- reduced size and mass of sensors and cabling
- immunity to radio frequency interference, and no radio frequency emission
- zero power providing intrinsically safe operation, particularly important in areas where fuel is present
- superior fatigue durability as a result of the very low mass of fibre sensors
- unique to fibre sensors, the ability to embed within the composite structures chosen for many applications in modern aircraft.
Smart Fibres has been at the forefront of pioneering such aerospace applications since its establishment in the 1990s. Working with some of the biggest names in the civil and military aircraft industries, the Company has made great steps in increasing the technology readiness level of fibre optic sensing on aircraft. During the Company's collaboration with partners of the European program 'AHMOS', it developed and demonstrated the capability to detect certain damage processes related to composite disbonding, stringer disbonding and changes in load paths on structural items. Under the same program, Smart Fibres' Wx instrumentation underwent numerous flight trials in a hawk jet, involving high g manoeuvres at high and low altitudes designed to subject the instrumentation to the maximum operational extremes available from the aircraft. Through this AHMOS development, and the subsequent miniaturisation activity on the Wx instrumentation, SF has developed a flightworthy and high-performance measurement system that exceed the objective set by the consortium of providing a weight efficiency of 50 FBGs/kg.
On civil aircraft platforms, our activities are primarily aimed at introducing the above fibreoptic sensing benefits to certain key aircraft sub-systems. A large commercial aircraft has many hundreds of sensors on-board, many of which are in areas of extreme vibration and temperature, and are in close proximity to or in contact with aircraft fuel. In many of these areas, optical fibre sensing can offer key advantages in improved measurement performance, lower weight of measurement system, and improved safety.
Current activity also involves on-going collaborative research and development to look at the means of applying optical fibre sensing to monitor the integrity of bonded structural joints, particularly of composite constructions increasingly used on today's modern aircraft.
Further information on our previous aerospace activities, and our AHMOS program are available at our reference page.