A new fibre-metal laminate material is being promoted as an anti-fatigue technology for aircraft wings by its creators, the Netherlands' Delft University of Technology, Dutch structures specialist GTM Advanced Structures and US aluminium company Alcoa.

Unveiling the material at a conference on damage-tolerant aircraft structures in Delft, its inventors said that CentrAl (central reinforced aluminium) structures are stronger than the carbonfibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP) composites used for the Boeing 787 wing and are "nearly immune" to fatigue.

CentrAl comprises a central layer of fibre-metal laminate, sandwiched between one or more thick layers of aluminium. "By using CentrAl wing constructions, the weight can be reduced by another 20% compared with CFRP," says Delft University of Technology. The university developed the fatigue-resistant GLARE glassfibre-reinforced aluminium laminate used in Airbus A380 upper fuselage panels.

It adds that CentrAl is insensitive to fatigue, simple to repair and cheaper to manufacture and maintain than carbonfibre. At the conference the US Air Force, Alcoa and GTM said CentrAl could enable so-called "carefree structures". These would be less sensitive to damage caused by fatigue, hailstorms and other weather phenomena, ground collisions and corrosion.

Source: Flight International