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More than 380 patents for the A380
More than 380 patents for the A380
During the A380 development phase, Airbus informs us that it filed more than 380 patent applications for technologies developed for the all new double decker. Since, the programme was launched in December 2000, these new technologies have been put through rigorous testing. Significant breakthrough innovations have been achieved in aerodynamics, cabin design, engine integration, flight controls, aircraft systems, manufacturing techniques and the extensive use of advanced lightweight composite materials, making the A380 one of the world's most advanced and efficient airliners.
These intellectual property rights secure Airbus' innovations and form a solid basis for maintaining Airbus as a leading company in new technological developments. Among the innovations for which Airbus has filed patent applications is the Zero Splice inlet that is integrated into the A380 engines' nacelles. This invention, which consists of a single 3608 composite piece, instead of several separate panels spliced together, contributes significantly to the A380s very low-noise emissions.
Another Airbus industry first is said to be the extensive use of advanced lightweight materials, such as carbon fibre reinforced plastic, for the large primary structures of the A380. Airbus has patented a new joining process for producing the world's first ever carbon- fibre composite centre wing-box for a commercial aircraft. Some 25 per cent of the A380 structure is made of composites, generating a total weight saving of 15 tonnes, which contributes to its low-fuel consumption and low- noise emissions. Airbus has also filed patents for the many innovative systems developed for the A380. These include the avionics data communication network (ADCN) which supports the increasing inter-system communication needs with the benefit of further improving data integrity and transmission speed. Another significant breakthrough in aircraft systems is the brake-to-vacate function that optimises the amount of energy used for braking and reduces runway occupancy time, while also ensuring a high level of passenger comfort during landing.
Patent applications also cover the electrical back-up hydraulic actuator which is part of the A380's new two energy, four-channel flight controls architecture. Conventional flight controls architecture on commercial aircraft has three hydraulic channels.
The A380 architecture increases the performance and reliability of the flight controls system due to its dual energy source (electrical and hydraulic) and reduces weight by suppressing one hydraulic circuit.
According to Airbus these patented technologies will continue to be further improved during the service life of the A380 and a number of these have already been adopted for the A350 XWB.
Airbus also reports that as part of its commitment to reducing the impact of aviation on the environment, it is focusing its R&T on developing green aviation technologies that will contribute to further improving aircraft fuel efficiency, reducing CO2 and NOx emissions and cutting noise.
Finding suitable alternative fuels to kerosene is one area of research Airbus is focusing on. Airbus states that it expects that promising kerosene and bio-fuel blends will be identified by 2010. Identifying alternative fuels is the focus of CALIN (Carburant Alternatifs et systèmes d'Injection innovants), a two-year joint French research project which was launched in July. Airbus is supporting CALIN with major research institutions such as ONERA, IFP and the CNRS and industry partners including SAFRAN. The research aims to identify and evaluate a number of alternative candidates to kerosene for the short, medium and long term. The work will look at what kind of fuel could be both suitable and available and what modifications would be required to engine, aircraft fuel systems and aircraft configuration.
In the coming months, Airbus will extend this research programme with European and world-wide research and industry partners. In addition to its research into alternative fuels, Airbus is working with fuel producers, engine manufacturers, airlines and airport authorities, to develop a standard approval process for alternative fuels. This will resolve the issues of qualification, certification and the potential introduction of alternative fuels at an industry and world-wide level. This work is being carried out within the US Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuel Initiative as well as with the IATA Alternative Fuel Project that was initiated in 2006.