Aircraft Wings That Can Fix Themselves

Self-healing technology one step closer - British scientists produce  aircraft wings that can fix themselves!

A team of British scientists has produced aircraft wings that can fix themselves after being damaged, suggesting that self-healing technology will soon become commonplace.

A team at the University of Bristol has been quietly developing the technology for the past three years. Team leader, Professor Duncan Wass, said he expected self-healing products to reach consumers in the “very near future”.

His team specialises in modifying carbon fibre composite materials, the strong but lightweight substances used increasingly widely in the manufacture of everything from commercial aircraft wings to sports racquets and high-performance bicycles.

Professor Wass and his team have been working with aerospace engineers at the university, who wanted to know if there was a way of preventing the tiny, almost undetectable cracks that form in an aircraft’s wings and fuselage.

Aircraft Wings That Can Fix Themselves

The agent seeps into the cracks left by the damage before coming into contact with a catalyst, triggering a rapid chemical reaction which causes it to harden.

Airline safety checks could also be made far cheaper with the help of the technology. A dye could be added to the healing agent causing any damage to an aircraft to show up like a bruise. Engineers would therefore be able to identify damaged areas quickly when examining the plane – but a tweak would be made to cater for nervous fliers.

Professor Wass said the dye used would be invisible to the naked eye and only show up when an ultraviolet light was put on it.

Moreover, the research is an important step in an emerging field which could soon produce self-healing nail polish and a cure for cracked mobile phone screens.

Are interested in aviation future technologies? Take a look at the Future Aircraft!