Japan's R & D Institute of Metal and Composites for Future Industries (RIMCOF) and the European aircraft manufacturer Airbus have agreed to conduct a cooperative study for development of Structural Health Monitoring (SHM) technology. It is the first time for RIMCOF to conduct a joint study with non-Japanese organization.

The SHM system checks damages to carbon fibre reinforced composite structure that are increasingly used in aircraft, and evaluates its robustness. The SHM detects invisible strain or cracks through optical fibre used as sensor embedded in or bonded on the surface of composite structure of aircraft. The SHM system is similar to human nerve system in which the brain senses pain or uneasiness in human body. When applied, this SHM technology would immediately detect faults or abnormal transformations caused in the aircraft structure even during flight, thereby offering advantages such as improved safety and reliability or more efficient aircraft maintainability.
RIMCOF Chairman Kazuo Tsukuda said, "We are extremely happy to start cooperative study with the Europe抯 leading aircraft manufacturer Airbus. By this cooperative activity, we look forward to seeing our SHM technology being put into practical use and contributing aircraft safety."

Airbus President and CEO Christian Streiff said: "We are very pleased to have reached an agreement for this cooperative study and development with the SHM technology leader RIMCOF. As more and more composite materials are used in aircraft structure, the SHM technology will be indispensable in developing the next-generation commercial aircraft. Our joint efforts between Japan and Europe with cutting-edge technologies from both sides would greatly contribute to the advancement of future commercial aircraft technologies."

RIMCOF member companies (Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, and Fuji Heavy Industries) have formed with Airbus "The Japan Airbus SHM Technology for Aircraft Composite." The project team will continue its study for five years until end 2010. Based on outcomes achieved from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry's (METI) project for "Advanced Materials & Process Development for Next Generation Aircraft Structures," the project covers technology evaluation, component test, and technology optimization for application to commercial aircraft.

RIMCOF has been established in 1981 in accordance with the creation of "Research and Development Project on Basic Technologies for Future Industries" defined by METI to promote research and development for metals and composites. It conducts research and development for metals and composite materials in order to contribute to the industry through effective use of its research results.

A leading aircraft manufacturer with the most modern and comprehensive product line on the market, Airbus is a global company with design and manufacturing facilities in France, Germany, the UK, and Spain as well as subsidiaries in Japan, the U.S, and China. Headquartered in Toulouse, France, Airbus is an EADS joint Company with BAE Systems.