In the face of strict regulatory requirements for aircraft and helicopters regarding the risks of impacts, manufacturers are coming up with specially adapted designs and using stronger materials. The Clément Ader Institute (ICA) along with two of its affiliated institutions ISAE-SUPAERO and University of Toulouse III Paul Sabatier, Airbus and IRT Saint Exupéry have decided to join forces, bringing together their equipment and skills to form the STIMPACT platform at the Innovation Campus / Toulouse Aerospace. The platform can simulate and test out high-speed impacts, and will be equipped to manage the full range of potential scenarios for aeronautics. It was launched on 16 March with an event attended by 80 people.
STIMPACT will allow the European aeronautics industry to develop the very latest materials – lighter structures that are both cheaper and more reliable.
Drawing on research initiatives that Airbus and the ICA have being leading for the last 20 years and taking into account the needs of companies like STELIA Aerospace, IRT Saint Exupéry joined the Samba FUI project. Thanks to its collaborative model based on public-private partnerships, IRT Saint Exupéry was able to speed up the process of setting up the platform and putting the partnerships in place, while demonstrating its ability to act as a catalyst for faster technology transfer.
Equipped with three 40, 60 and 120 mm diameter gas guns, the STIMPACT platform can simulate all the full range of impacts experienced in aeronautics in order to conduct experiments on everything from small samples right up to real size, representative structural components.
More advanced tests and simulations can also be carried out thanks to its use of ultra high-speed cameras capable of taking over 100,000 images a second. These are linked to specialist software that can correlate pictures taken to produce the best possible test data. Synchronising these cameras allows researchers to better understand how structures react to impacts.
The decision by IRT Saint Exupéry, ICA and Airbus to share test equipment and expertise is producing new perspectives on materials development for the future as well as lighter and more resistant structures.
FRAMEWORK AGREEMENT BETWEEN PARTNERS
The close partnership between the ICA, Airbus and the IRT Saint Exupéry is supported by a framework agreement. This secures the shared test means and guarantees that the high quality equipment and skills required will be funded to ensure that the platform is capable of responding to the demands of both science and industry going forward.
The STIMPACT platform also received financial support in 2015 from the French government’s, via the IDEX excellence initiative UNITI project of the Federal University of Toulouse Midi-Pyrenees (UFTMP).