The modern day aircraft is an incredibly complex piece of engineering, where it is capable of withstanding a whole lot of external stresses, and yet will need to perform at a very high level for a stretch of time without any compromises. This would translate to the engineering department perform plenty of ground checks to make sure that they’re safe to fly, although researchers over at BAE Systems claim to have developed a new generation of ‘smart skin’ for aircraft that will help minimize down time.
Employing tens of thousands of micro-sensors, this new ‘smart skin’ is capable of detecting any damage to the surface or exterior of the aircraft, and it will send back health statistics to its operator. According to BAE Systems, this experimental coating would eventually sense wind speed, temperature, movement and strain in the same manner that our human skin works by detecting and sending back such impulses to the brain. In other words, there would be less reliance on ground inspection personnel.
Not only that, the maintenance crew will also be able to replace any damaged or compromised parts before they end up as a liability and reduce the efficiency of the aircraft. It remains to be seen just when this technology will be implemented though. [Press Release]