SUSTAINair – Making Sustainable Aviation Possible

The JKU Institute for Structural Lightweight Design is actively involved in an EU project focusing on circular aviation.

Projekt SUSTAINair; Credit: SUSTAINair
Projekt SUSTAINair; Credit: SUSTAINair

The recently launched Horizon 2020 project SUSTAINair aims to conduct research and develop solutions on ways to increase resource efficiency and aircraft performance while simultaneously reducing waste and material costs during an aircraft’s life cycle, something referred to as circular aviation. The COVID-19 pandemic has plunged the sector into uncertainty, with many aircraft being taken out of service earlier than anticipated. The EU-funded research aims to make the entire aviation supply chain ecosystem greener, in line with the Circular Economy Action Plan, setting new standards for aerospace manufacturing.

In addition, by introducing Industry 4.0 technology in aircraft end-of-life processing, researchers involved in the project plan to develop a robot head that automatically detects and removes rivets, allowing for alloy separation and hence, a higher-quality of recycled aircraft material.

Launched in January 2021, SUSTAINair will be a 3.5-year project with an active budget of 5 million euros at its disposal. Eleven European research organizations and industrial partners - including Johannes Kepler University Linz - will collaborate on the project.

The project partners are at the forefront of circular aviation, pursuing the objectives as outlined by the EU Green Deal and Flightpath 2050. The technological innovations brought about by transitioning to a circular economy can be considered as a way to address the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in industries along the entire aerospace component supply chain.