The so-called Final Review Meeting of the EU’s MAAXIMUS project was recently held in Dresden, Germany. MAAXIMUS is a large-scale research project focusing on design, production and testing technologies for composite aircraft components. The project has made a concrete contribution to the use of composite components in AIRBUS and Dassault aircraft, and has also helped to speed up composite component production processes at these manufacturers. As a member of the project management committee, NLR played a prominent role in managing the entire project. At the same time, MAAXIMUS has enabled NLR to gain a great deal of industrially relevant knowledge about composites. NLR’s expertise will be made available to the Dutch private sector and will be put to good use in the development and application of innovative composite products.
The MAAXIMUS project was led by AIRBUS and was undertaken by a consortium of approx. 60Â partners from 18Â different countries. With a budget of 60Â millionÂ euros and a total lead time of more than eightÂ years, it was one of the EU’s largest FP7 LevelÂ 2 aeronautics projects. The project’s first phase consisted of the development of new design and production technologies. In the second ‘demonstration’ phase, these technologies were applied in the design, production and testing of a full-scale composite fuselage panel for a wide-body aircraft. NLR contributed to this phase by carrying out a virtual test programme in preparation for the physical tests, and by correlating and validating the test results.
The knowledge gained by NLR in the MAAXIMUS project has been elaborated using facilities including NLR’s ACM Pilot Plant (Automated Composite Manufacturing). In this so-called ‘Field Lab’, research is performed into the automation of composite component production processes. The aim is to develop, until the market introduction stage, new composite products that are lighter and/or more affordable than other products currently available on the market. In this way the Field Lab — along with other collaborative projects focused on composites, like CompoWorld and the Dutch Composites Maintenance Centre (DCMC) — makes an important contribution to the competitiveness and capacity for innovation of Dutch SMEs and industry. On a more general level, NLR’s composite expertise contributes to a more sustainable aviation sector.