Technologies for tomorrow's aircraft

The aviation industry is also following the demand for ever shorter innovation cycles with simultaneously increasing production and manufacturing requirements for economic efficiency, emissions, and environmental compatibility. In this context, Fraunhofer IFAM is developing solutions to key challenges which are currently accompanying aviation in its transformation process towards the quiet, efficient, sustainable, and yet economical aviation of tomorrow. 

Central elements for innovations in aviation are the development of new materials, material combinations, and joining processes as well as the application of efficient manufacturing processes and production chains that meet the safety requirements of the aviation industry. Fraunhofer IFAM has been researching solutions for these development goals since its foundation and is a strategic development partner of the aerospace industry. The institute's scientists - including those from materials science, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, chemistry, and the development of processes and plant components - combine their expertise for the required system solutions. Starting with tailor-made materials, manufacturing technology and surface functionalization up to the complete characterization and qualification of the component or process, current issues can be comprehensively addressed in cooperation with our customers. 

With its core competencies, Fraunhofer IFAM offers companies in the aerospace industry a spectrum of innovations in the qualification of materials and manufacturing processes: 

  • Functional surfaces and printed sensor technology 
  • Joining technologies, e.g. adhesive bonding, thermoplastic welding, and riveting 
  • Automated joining, assembly and coating processes 
  • Process monitoring and quality assurance 
  • Aviation-compliant examinations and tests in accredited laboratories, e.g. salt spray testing, cross-cut testing and G1C testing in accordance with NADCAP 
  • Personnel qualification in the field of adhesive bonding technology and FRP 

This competence portfolio of Fraunhofer IFAM is a significant part of Fraunhofer's aerospace technology portfolio, which is coordinated by the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft's Lead Market Aerospace. Due to his many years of expertise in the field of aeronautics, the institute director Prof. Dr. Bernd Mayer has been the central contact person for the aeronautics activities of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft since 2021. Furthermore, Fraunhofer IFAM is responsible for the Aeronautics Office of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. 

As a central element of global mobility, aviation connects people and markets all over the world. Innovative technologies, materials and manufacturing processes for aircraft are required in order to be able to fulfill this goal in the field of tension of global competition under the boundary conditions of increasing climate change. At the same time, these must meet the increased safety requirements of aviation. Fraunhofer IFAM has been a strategic research and development partner of the aviation industry in these areas for many years. Currently, the focus is on the following topics in particular: 

  • Climate-neutral flying  
  • Decarbonization of the aviation industrial system  
  • Digital transformation and automation in the aviation industry 
  • Electric flying  
  • Drone technology  
  • Urban Air Mobility

Many of Fraunhofer IFAM's developments in the field of aviation have been developed as part of the Aviation Research Program (LuFO) of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK). Other key topics have been developed as part of the European Commission's Clean Sky and Clean Sky 2 programs. In addition, Fraunhofer IFAM is one of more than 30 Fraunhofer institutes that combine their expertise within Fraunhofer AVIATION & SPACE and conduct applied research in the field of aerospace technology.

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