The future of drones

The aviation and technology sectors have undergone a revolution with new applications and technologies related to unmanned aerial systems, commonly called drones (UAS / UAV / RPAS). Not only because of the new possibilities of business and commercial activity that have opened in the civil market, both for large companies and for, especially, SMEs traditionally linked to the aeronautical sector, but also for new uses and applications that are already developing for this type of aircraft.

Agriculture, security or industry are just examples of some of the productive sectors of our economy where drone use is already being experienced and applied, but they are not the only ones and there will be many more. In CATEC we have been working since the beginning in research and development to promote the transfer of this technology to companies, as well as with civil and regulatory authorities in a new framework that helps to define and regulate flights and uses with this type of aircraft.

In this issue we talk specifically about two new milestones related to drones in which we have participated successfully and that make us look optimistically at the future of this sector. On the one hand, we have welcomed into our ATLAS Center in Villacarrillo, Jaen the first U-Space demonstration with drones in Spain, held under the DOMUS project, which has been a preliminary test before DOMUS final demonstrations to be held in September to testing a complete integration of drones into the airspace, participating with other aircraft. On the other hand, in recent months we have hosted different tests of the EGNSS4RPAS project for the standardization of unmanned aircraft at European level, which has sought to demonstrate the usefulness of the European positioning systems Galileo and EGNOS for drone operations. These tests have included a recent one carried out in the urban environment of the same town of Villacarrillo, given the proximity to our ATLAS center, and which have been another important milestone as it was the first in all of Europe that has followed the methodology included in the new European regulations of drones, recently approved .

In conclusion, we are in a sector of continuous technological advances that make the future of drones very promising, and that it must be integrated into the new national and Andalusian strategies for the aerospace sector development, although linked also to other sectors-, and articulated as a key element to continue promoting the growth of the productive fabric and the increase of the competitiveness of the industry and the economy in Spain and Andalusia.

Joaquín Rodríguez Grau
Director of CATEC


Structural Health Monitoring system to prevent damage in aerostructures and reduce maintenance costs

This technology allows monitoring, either in flight or scheduled maintenance, the damage generated in a structure, leading to the possibility of making changes or actions to correct it

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Structural Health Monitoring system to prevent damage in aerostructures and reduce maintenance costs
Our Center has a Structural Health Monitoring system which allows to increase security against failure and reduce the maintenance costs of high value structures, as in the case of structures and aeronautical parts in carbon fiber (CFRP). This technology allows control at any moment of the load at which a structure is subjected, so that it can quantify those loads that may exceed the established limits, postponing or, if they are serious, advancing their revisions.

Specifically, the available technology in CATEC has considerable advantages when it comes to integration in the structure (can be absorved within the laminate or glued onto the surface of the component), and also allows a large number of sensors on a single line (decreasing implementation costs and "wired" in the structure).

Furthermore and because of the nature of the technology, the optic fiber is electromagnetically immune and cause no interferences to other aircraft instruments.

In aerospace sector, the damage is often induced in composite structures subjected to impacts out of the plane, substantially degrading the mechanical properties of the composites. With this technology it is possible to monitor these damages and solve the problems produced by them.

Using this technology can be monitored, either in flight or scheduled maintenance, the generated structural damage, leading to the possibility of making changes or actions to correct this erosion. Other advantages of this technology are applied in the monitoring of structural and environmental tests or monitoring the degree of cure (during manufacture) of a polymer matrix composite material.

For more information, you make an appointment with the Materials and Processes Area, and its director Fernando Lasagni.

July 31st 2015
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