Future Integrated Civil Aerospace: Smarter, Cleaner, Faster and Cheaper
Despite the substantial damage to aviation sector at the era of COVID-19 driven low-demand airlines and aviation, the aerospace sector is heading towards futuristic integrated structures, and is becoming smarter in technology, cleaner in emission, faster in flight, cheaper to return-to-service, and last but not least, safer for air travel: “Towards the world’s first zero-emission commercial aircraft: ZEROe”; this headline inaugurated in September 2020 by Airbus is a manifesto exemplary of the sector’s determination to step into the adventure of eco-friendly Hydrogen propulsion equipped commercial aircraft. Side by side the unmanned, urban and autonomous air vehicles and marginal hybrid electric civil aircraft developments, this might be what our future press headlines for aerospace would look like which may, after decades of ambush, fulfil intensive adventurous developments at both industries and society, at once. Research and innovation sector has intensively been active in both private and public sectors, and has played a major role in driving such competitive push towards future aerospace and aviation. Moreover, unifying approaches taken by academic-industrial collaboration have pushed the sector further to enabling a sustainable and net-zero emission, clean-energy equipped transport via introducing integrated light structures, zero-emission propulsion, inflight connectivity, and eco-friendly and cost-effective manufacturing and assembly processes. This keynote embarks on the current state-of-the-arts and R&D activities for aerospace applications briefed above, touches on those related to futuristic autonomous and energy harvesting self-sensing integrated aerostructures, and narrows down to key research breakthrough in reliable development and assessment of aerospace composite structures and assemblies, quantification of zero-thickness defects in bonded assemblies, and the utilisation of industry 4.0’s key pillars for autonomous transport, artificial intelligence based design, and augmented reality equipped composites process and performance.