Smart Skin for Aircraft Can Alert Failures

August 26, 2014, By Sanjeev Ramachandran

In the tech age, we do have laptop skins, mobile skins and skins for every bit of gadget and they add to their charm. Have you ever thought how it would be to add skins to airplanes?

The thought might itself sound hilarious. But British aerospace company BAE Systems has taken up the idea quite seriously. And the new innovation would go beyond the traditional charm wrap.

BAE’s airplane skins are designed to predict the failures within the plane. They would be able to possibly alert the technical failures or environmental changes that needs a diagnosis.

The idea was when Senior Research Scientist Lydia Hyde noticed the sensors present in the home appliances. Though these may just alert users about overheating, Hyde thought the idea could be pushed to a higher level.



(Click to enlarge)

Thus was born the thought of extending the same sensor application to alert about various technical flaws in aircraft, so that it would help get rid of the time consuming maintenance schedules an airplane may have undergo.

The sensor used on the skin takes up minor space of beneath 1mm square. The array of such self powered sensors would work the same way that human skin would be sending the information to the brain. These sensors can also be applied as a coating on planes with the usual spray-paint method.

Currently in its initial stages of development, the applicability of the skin is not yet fully confirmed.  In this era where everything gets upgraded to ‘smart’, it’s no big deal this new innovation is now being baptized as ‘smart skin’ for the aircraft. Let’s wait to know more.

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