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A European project headed by TECNALIA will develop nanomaterials to build safer aircraft

The project will develop intelligent materials based on nanomaterials that are able to detect and react to atmospheric phenomena, fire and accidents

Making aircraft safer by using mechanisms that, for example, prevent the formation of ice on wings and other surfaces, or the incorporation of systems that avoid the spread of fire during accidents, is the aim of the new project headed by the TECNALIA aerospace unit.

With an initial budget of 3 million Euros and the participation of twelve European partners headed by TECNALIA-Aerospace, the Spanish contribution to the Laysa project (Multifunctional Layers for Safer Aircraft Composite Structures) as includes the companies Aernnova (formerly Gamesa Aeronáutica) and Aries Complex (Aricom).

The project is planned to last for three years and is designed to incorporate safety solutions to aircraft. These include solutions to prevent the build up of ice on the wings and other surfaces of aircraft, as well as preventing the spread of fire during accidents, by the use of inorganic and/or carbon nanoreinforcements. The project will also assess their sensory capacities.

The Laysa project counts of the participation of companies, research centres and universities from the United Kingdom, Sweden, France, Switzerland, Greece and Spain. Especially significant is the cooperation of two universities that are leaders in the fields of fire and ice – Cranfield and Lille.

Composite materials are known for their toughness and hardness. They are compatible with lightness and weigh less than metallic materials. In addition, they are especially aerodynamic and ideal for use with parts and structures with very complex shapes. Add to this, they are not affected by the corrosion problems suffered by metallic materials, meaning that they are being increasingly used in the aeronautical industry.

The Laysa project will develop a new multilayer material that approaches the problems of icing protection, fire resistance and health monitoring of a composite component simultaneously. The outer layer of the multilayer material will be reinforced with either carbon nanofibers or carbon nanotubes. The conductive capacity of the carbon will mean that an electrical field will heat the composite component and avoid ice from building up on its surface. An inner layer will contain inorganic nanoreinforcements that may be combined with flame retardants to enhance the fire resistance of the component without significantly increasing its weight, a key factor in aeronautical applications. The sensory capacity of the materials will also be used to identify the status of the part at all times (self-inspection and health monitoring)

Participation in the Project

As well as heading and coordinating the project, the TECNALIA aerospace unit will be responsible for characterising and developing the composite materials (nanomaterials: carbon nanotubes and nanofibers, etc.) so that they have the required thermal and electrical conductivity. Especially important is the fact that TECNALIA is heading one of the 22 Level 1 projects financed in the 1st call for the 7th Framework Programme, a list made up of such illustrious names as Airbus, EADS, Rolls-Royce, Alenia, Thales and other giants of the aeronautical sector.

TECNALIA Technological Corporation is heading 4 Projects in the 7th Framework Programme, including the Laysa project designed to build safer aircraft. The other three are concerned with the simulation of cementitious materials, mobile communications and services, and efficient management of fisheries.

TECNALIA is the second most important body in Spain and the first in the Basque Country as regards returns, obtaining 38 new projects in 2007.

The Transport sector (aeronautical included) has seen the approval of 89 project proposals in the first call for the 7th Framework Programme, of which only 36 have been funded by the European Commission. Of these 36 proposals, it is significant that five of them are projects involving the participation of the TECNALIA aerospace unit. Said proposals highlight the international recognition of the technological centre as regards the technologies and innovative materials designed for this sector.


TECNALIA Corporación Tecnológica, made up by Azti, ESI, Fatronik, Inasmet, Labein, Neiker and Robotiker, was founded in 2001 with the aim of contributing to the development of the economy and society through the use and promotion of Technological Innovation by the development of Research and the spreading of its results. Business is one of the main recipients of TECNALIA's services and products and we have a portfolio of 3,500 clients who benefit from our dedication to innovation.

Press release issued by Tecnalia on February 19, 2008


 Contact details from our directory:
Tecnalia Research/Consulting Services
AERnnova Aircraft Structural Components, Metal Structures, Ceramic Composite Structures, Aircraft Control Surfaces, Wings, Fuselage Sections, Empennages, Nacelles, Fairings, Engine Housings, Aircraft Interiors, Helicopter Assemblies, Technical Manuals
Aries Complex, S.A. Wing Flaps, Empennages, Fuselage Sections


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