Project name:

Horizon 2020 SUSTAINair Project

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One of the EU’s priorities is to advance the design, production and field operation of multifunctional and intelligent airframe and engine parts. New technologies emerging because of advances in European research and innovation can help meet this goal. However, key obstacles surrounding the entire aircraft component value chain will need to be overcome first. Tackling these challenges, the EU-funded Horizon 2020 project SUSTAINair project aims to address each stage of the component value chain by developing and introducing novel concepts and techniques that will shape design, manufacturing, maintenance, repair, overhaul and recycling processes for lightweight, multifunctional and intelligent airframe and engine parts. SUSTAINair applies circular economy principles to the design, manufacturing, operations, and end-of-life phases of aircraft. SUSTAINair is researching and developing solutions to increase resource efficiency and aircraft performance while cutting down on waste and material costs throughout the aircraft life cycle, what is known as circular aviation. The central approach of SUSTAINair is to substantially increase the sustainability of the airframe value chain by achieving a paradigm shift in aircraft manufacturing. As such, the project has been endorsed by the Future Sky flagship program of EREA - Association of European Research Establishments in Aeronautics. SUSTAINair brings together 11 European research and industry partners, and is coordinated by the Austrian Institute of Technology - Light Metals Competence Centre AIT-LKR.


Circular design of individual components and joining technologies for airframe construction

Real-time structural health monitoring of materials and joints during operations

Improved maintenance and repair technologies to extend aircraft life-time

Rivet removal demonstrator using robotics & water jet cutting for improved recovery of high-quality recycling materials


Reduction in structural mass due to multi-material approach

Reduction in fuel consumption, thus emissions due to adaptive shaping of wings and control surfaces

Reduction in metal & composite material waste incurred during the manufacturing and end-of-life processes due to material-specific, economic recovery of aircraft parts such as fuselage and wing

Increase in aerodynamic efficiency due to use of flexible, lightweight materials

Increase in aircraft safety due to real-time onboard damage diagnosis (SHM)

Increase in energy savings due to industrially-viable, flexible wing with morphing capabilities

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