The aerospace, aviation, and defense industries are constantly evolving to increase both performance and safety standards. Recent advances in technology include improvements to engines, propulsion units, wings, aerodynamics, and much more. Countless innovations have come to fruition in the past few years, and many more are waiting in the wings. This blog will explain six of the most exciting emerging aerospace technologies currently in development.
Recently, the idea of a zero-fuel aircraft has continued to gain momentum in both civil and commercial sectors. This concept aircraft will be available for use in agricultural applications, aerial photography, 3D mapping, wildlife protection, and the provision of internet access to remote places. Zero-fuel aircraft use photovoltaic panels (a type of solar panel) to utilize solar energy and provide necessary thrust to the engine. One such system, the Solar Impulse 2, features nanocarbon fiber reinforced structural components which reduce the overall weight of the body. The pressure on aerospace and defense manufacturers has led them to develop long-term strategies for zero-fuel aircraft and other environmentally-friendly alternatives.
Structural Health Monitoring
Another rising technology is the advanced health management system which carries out monitoring, prognostics, and healing to help operators better analyze and understand the status of an aircraft. This technology is already being used by Boeing Company and Airbus, and was previously utilized on an Air France jet that went down in 2009. The technology was able to notify headquarters of electrical problems the aircraft was experiencing.
Advanced Space Propulsion Technologies
For several years, NASA, the Department of Energy, and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory have teamed to develop a plasma-based rocket propulsion system known as the VASIMR rocket (Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket). This technology is expected to significantly reduce fuel consumption and therefore enable longer-term space missions in the future. Although the program was initially criticized, recent breakthroughs indicate that a payoff is imminent.
Progress in material science has brought major advantages to aircraft manufacturers. New materials such as graphene and carbon are helping make airplane wings more efficient through reduction of weight and fuel consumption. These new materials are being used by NASA and MIT scientists to develop a ‘morphing’ wing that could also make manufacturing processes more efficient. This morphing wing comprises a system of tiny, lightweight subunits that can be assembled by small, specialized automation tools.
Smart Automation and Blockchain
Strides are also being taken to simplify the aircraft manufacturing process. The Airbus ‘Factory of the Future’ allows technicians to scan a metal surface with a tablet, smartphone, or other electrical parts to determine what size bolt is needed, how much torque to apply, and more. Then, based on this information, a robotic arm will carry out the assembly. Many aerospace and defense manufacturers are also exploring digital solutions as well. Technologies such as blockchain are helping to improve transparency and automate transactions among supply chain partners.
Many aircraft manufacturers have turned to 3D printing to help them keep up with the constant barrage of production deadlines. Airbus, for example, uses 3D printing to manufacture more than 1,000 of the parts used on the A350 airliner. As 3D printing becomes more prevalent, it will continue to reduce time, cost, and weight.
As aerospace and defense technology continues to develop, customers need a supplier that can keep up with the dynamic industry. This is where ASAP 360 Unlimited comes in. Owned and operated by ASAP Semiconductor, we can help you source all types of aerospace parts from many different aircraft manufacturers and deliver them with some of the industry’s best lead times. We’re always available and ready to help you find all the parts and equipment you need, 24/7-365. For a quick and competitive quote, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at +1-714-705-4780. Our team of dedicated account managers is standing by and will reach out to you in 15 minutes or less.
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