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DEFLECT launches four multifunctional integrable panels for greener aircraft

16 November 2020

The goal of the DEFLECT project was to develop a material or structure that would enable the efficient integration of mechanical and electrical elements such as connectors, wires and busbars into the structure of composite laminates.

Using a simple process, the project developed four multifunctional fire-proof panels, which can be used for building aircraft electrical cabinets for power distribution. 
Two different alternatives with high embedding capabilities have been developed:

  • A light, cost-effective and fire-proof laminate with high embedding capability (for embedding electric wires, fibre optics, electrical connectors and inserts)
  • A one-shot sandwich panel with reinforced skins specific for the embedment of busbars.

These panels contribute to Clean Sky 2’s environmental objectives because they reduce weight, reduce volume and integrate functions. Multifunctional structures allow aircraft manufacturers to make important mass savings – the panels will result in an overall mass saving of between 5 and 10%, in addition to reducing assembly costs and achieving a 10% saving in volume. 

Strictly speaking, if you only examine the weight of the panels, you will find that these new solutions are not lighter than current state-of-the-art Nomex panel. However, they are more resistant and much more damage tolerant than Nomex panels. They also have very high embedding ability. Therefore, considering the mass of additional elements required in the traditional solution such as attachments, screws, etc, the approaches developed in DEFLECT are very competitive. 

Some challenges for the DEFLECT project included optimising manufacturing parameters to ensure that the initiative was in line with REACH and fire regulations. 
Next steps for DEFLECT involve the development and complete validation of a functional prototype, and the consortium partners are currently investigating the possibility of patenting the outcomes of the project. 

The project consisted of TECNALIA and IRT Saint Exupery with Safran Electrical and Power as the Topic Manager. The overall EU budget was €599 600.