The first aircraft applications of smart, software-controlled fasteners are getting closer, with a major airline flight testing an integrated locking control and interior lighting system for stowage cabinets.

Developed by UK-based MacCarthy Interiors, the latching mechanism uses Intevia "intelligent" fasteners developed by the former Textron Fastening Systems (TFS), renamed Acument Global Technologies following its acquisition by investment firm Platinum Equity.

TFS licensed the fastening technology from Australian smart-material actuation specialist Telezygology (TZ) and is developing five families of fastening systems (Flight International, 22-28 August). The first three are an in-line series for locks, low-profile ring fasteners for access panels and high-load radial designs for structural panels.

"We have almost 100 customer applications in the pipeline," says TFS vice-president marketing David Feber, with aerospace and automotive being the biggest sectors. In addition to cabinet latches and seat anchors in airliners, aircraft applications in advanced design include access panels on military fast jets and quick-change interiors in helicopters, says Jane Heffner, leader of the newly formed Intevia business unit.

Five elements make up the Intevia system: fastening mechanism, smart-material actuation, embedded electronics, integrated sensors and software that allows the fasteners to be networked and controlled remotely. Describing the technology as "disruptive", the company is working closely with customers on developing applications. "Engineers need to be involved with Intevia at a much earlier stage, as it needs to be 'designed in'," says Heber. To that end, the Troy, Michigan-based company has introduced an evaluation kit to enable research laboratories and design centres to explore potential uses of the fastening technology in their own applications.

The stowage cabinet application uses Intevia in-line latches slim enough to fit inside the honeycomb door panels and lighter than traditional solenoid locking devices. A touch-sensitive handle commands a pair of latches, lock/unlock status lights and programmable cabinet interior lightning. Locking and lighting can also be controlled remotely.

Source: Flight International