Concept and Objectives:

SARISTU (Smart Intelligent Aircraft Structures) is a level 2, large-scale integrating project which aims at achieving reductions in aircraft weight and operational costs, as well as an improvement in the flight profile specific aerodynamic performance. The project focuses on integration activities in three distinct technological areas: airfoil Conformal Morphing, self-sensing and multifunctional structures through the use of nanoreinforced resins.

Past research has shown the economic feasibility and system maturity of aerodynamic morphing. However, few projects concerned themselves with the challenges arising from the structural integration on commercial aircraft. In particular the skin material and its bonding to the substructure is challenging. It is the aim of this project to demonstrate the structural realizability of individual morphing concepts concerning the leading edge, the trailing edge and the winglet on a full-size external wing by aerodynamic and structural testing. Operational requirements on morphing surfaces necessitate the implementation of an independent, integrated shape sensing system to ensure not only an optimal control of the aerodynamic surface but also failure tolerance and robustness. Developments made for structural health monitoring will be adapted to this task. Similar systems optimized for rapid in-service damage assessment have progressed to a maturity which allows their inclusion in the next generation of aircraft. However, the time consuming application of these sensor systems has to be further improved by integration at the component manufacturing level. The additional benefit of a utilization of these adapted systems for part manufacture process and quality control shall be assessed in SARISTU.

SARISTU Results in brief:

Making aeroplanes cheaper and quieter

European researchers are developing systems that can seamlessly change the shape of an aircraft’s wings. This technology has the potential to reduce the cost of flights and the noise of aircraft. Currently, the shape of aircraft cannot be changed without separating moving parts or making abrupt profile changes, challenges that can be solved through the concept of ‘smart intelligent structures’. These structures can offer significant savings in an aircraft’s total weight, manufacturing cost and operational cost, but they pose practical challenges. Overcoming these difficulties is the aim of the ‘Smart intelligent aircraft structures’ (SARISTU) project, funded by the EU. Researchers are aiming to demonstrate through testing that individual shaping or morphing concepts are structures that can be achieved on a full-size external wing. The four-year SARISTU project has completed its first year. At such an early stage it is not possible to draw firm conclusions with regard to the final performance of the developed concepts.

As regards the concept involving the incorporation of carbon nanotubes into the structure, initial testing has indicated that it should be possible to manufacture these laminates on an industrial scale. However, the project team says it is too early to reach any definite conclusions as to potential cost reductions. A very ambitious fuel-saving target has been set for SARISTU. Early calculations and analyses indicate that this is likely to be exceeded but it will still need to be offset against a possible weight penalty. Now that the foundations have been laid, the project will continue to research integration of the most suitable functionality into the structures under development. The aerodynamic and structural testing of these structures is set to continue throughout the coming years as there is still some way to go.

Public Documents

Periodic Report – SARISTU (Smart intelligent aircraft structures)