Industry is waiting for the European Commission to approve matching funding for a proposed 60-month project with a potential for 60 partners. The project's aim is to advance simulation-based composite airframe design and manufacturing technology and reduce time to market.

Reductions of 10% in airliner structural weight and 20% in development lead time by 2012, and a fuselage design that requires no late modifications, are the quantifiable goals of the project, to be funded under Europe's Seventh Framework research programme.

Called Maaximus (more affordable aircraft structure life-cycle through extended, integrated and mature numerical sizing) the Airbus-led project will involve a virtual structure platform and an actual composite fuselage.

Goals for the virtual platform are more accurate and affordable structural behaviour modelling. The aim is to model thousands of variables instead of dozens today. And industry wants models containing 100 million degrees of freedom instead of 1 million today, using massively parallel computing.

Manufacturing and testing of the real composite fuselage will investigate metal-coated carbon fibres for electromagnetic protection and improvements in material strength of up to 12%. Carbon-nanotube spun fibres may also be involved.

Source: Flight International