Review: “New lightweight construction solutions in aviation”

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CU members in conversation

In the monthly “Jour Fixe” of Composites United e. V. companies and institutions present their technologies or current projects on a current topic. Two experts introduced the discussion on new lightweight construction solutions in aviation and led the conversation with speakers and members. 60 members and guests took part in the current Jour Fixe of CU West, which took place on February 19, 2024 in cooperation with the CU Nord cluster. “Aviation has ambitious climate goals. Lightweight construction is the key to CO2 reduction – the composites industry holds it in its hands,” says Dr. Heinz Kolz, cluster managing director of CU West in his welcome address.

As part of the 23rd Jour Fixe, the following companies/institutions presented their contributions to the topic:

• Leibniz Institute for Composite Materials (IVW)



Airbus Aerostructures


Participated for us: Prof. Dr. Ulf Breuer (Scientific Director IVW)

The development of innovative composite solutions for eco-efficient aircraft structures is a central topic at the Leibniz Institute for Composites. With around 150 employees, materials, processing technologies and construction methods are examined and verified up to TRL6. Whatever our future aircraft will look like against the background of the EU Green Deal and the circular economy - carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP) will enable low mass, maximum payload and long range with minimal fuel consumption. The so-called “exchange rate”, i.e. the monetary advantage of lightweight construction, will continue to increase because Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) and hydrogen are more expensive than today's kerosene.

The lion's share of an aircraft's mass lies in the supporting structure, the so-called airframe. New and even lighter materials and processes for the airframe must enable long service life, high damage tolerance, easy repair and economical recycling solutions. This can be achieved with thermoplastic composite materials, which also allow particularly short production cycles and the use of welding technology to replace riveted connections. Integrating features into future composites will result in aircraft-level weight savings. To this end, IVW is working with Airbus on a new class of steel and carbon fiber reinforced structures.

Interested in the contributions of the other speakers?

Click here for the CU press release:

The technology trends were highlighted again in the discussion (Bastian Brenken):

• qualified out-of-autoclave technologies

• RTM for large structures

• Energy-efficient production processes with thermoplastics

• Complex considerations in material and component development, starting from the selection of raw materials (availability, environmental relevance, costs) through energy-efficient production processes and functionality in use to recycling and reuse concepts

Depending on the component, other joining processes such as laser and induction welding must be further developed (Th. Neumeyer). In addition, joining technologies for thermoplastic-metal composites should play an important role (F. Schemm).

Compared to the automotive industry, there is still a great need for development in the standardization and digitalization of the entire value chain.


Prof. Dr.-Ing.

Ulf Breuer

Scientific Director

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