A New fuselage for a Smart Aircraft - By : Darine Ameyed,

A New fuselage for a Smart Aircraft

Darine Ameyed
Darine Ameyed Author profile
Darine Ameyed is a postdoctoral associate researcher at the ÉTS Synchromedia Laboratory. She is also scientific project manager at CIRODD.

avion intelligent

The smart aircraft of the future is becoming a reality, thanks to advances in smart materials developed by a team from the British aircraft manufacturer BAE Systems, namely: a smart coating that could help monitor flight conditions and give alerts in case of problems.

Atmospheric conditions and impacts with objects or animals, while taking off or in flight, are often the cause of aircraft accidents. If pilots were warned in time of potential damages, they might be able to react and secure the aircraft and its passengers.

smart aircraft

Developing a Smart Aircraft

One idea is to monitor in real time all the data relating to an aircraft with the aid of a smart skin. A team of researchers and engineers from the BAE Systems Advanced Technology Centre in Chelmsford, England, has been working on this concept for several years. They created the Smart Skin for the smart aircraft, based on the research work of Lydia Hyde, senior researcher at BAE. The idea came to her while watching her clothes dryer, which avoided overheating thanks to an integrated heat sensor. She then applied the concept of intelligent sensors in aeronautics, thinking that if a sensor in a clothes dryer can prevent an accident, then thousands of tiny sensors may help prevent aircraft accident

This smart skin is made of an optical fibre structure, covering the fuselage of an aircraft, and acting as a nervous system for detection and communication of information in real time. The idea was to create a smart coating for the fuselage of an aircraft that can also replace the Pitot tubes, thermometers, and other conventional instruments.  The concept involves wrapping the fuselage of the aircraft with tens of thousands of connected micro-sensors measuring less than one millimetre in diameter and with their own power system.

smart aircraft

Once installed, the sensors could measure several parameters: location via GPS, speed, temperature, distance from the ground, wind speed, air pressure, magnetic field strength, obstacles, light detection, etc. These sensors transfer their data to a central computer, which analyzes and processes the results, initiates the appropriate action, and informs the crew on the status of the smart aircraft.

Thanks to this technology, we can foresee more robust defence platforms in the future, which will be able to undertake complex missions.

One day, this smart skin may also be able to perform self-repairs. Until then, the technology will help reduce the number of aircraft accidents by signalling, in real time, damages and other liabilities, while reducing the time required for ground operations such as aircraft inspection and maintenance. This technology can also be used in civil aircraft, vehicles, and more.


Darine Ameyed

Author's profile

Darine Ameyed is a postdoctoral associate researcher at the ÉTS Synchromedia Laboratory. She is also scientific project manager at CIRODD.

Program : Automated Manufacturing Engineering 

Research chair : Canada Research Chair in Smart Sustainable Eco-Cloud 

Research laboratories : SYNCHROMEDIA – Multimedia Communication in Telepresence 

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