Traditional bolted on repairs can be conter-productive or detrimental, cutting the composite structure’s residual strength by up to 50% and also adding extra weight. But amazingly regulators still do not accept bonding as an airworthy repair mothodology.

LHT is a member of the Composite Adaptable Inspection and Repair (CAIRE) project team, which includes Airbus and many other industry stakeholders. CAIRE seeks to automate and standardize bonded composite repairs thus gaining certification and quality assurance approval.

“The only repair that is certifiable at the moment is bolted, meaning that just like a standard metallic aircraft you put a bolted patch on it,” he explained. “The problem is bonding -- which we believe is the best way to repair composite aircraft -- isn't allowed by the regulators.”

Bonded repairs are largely done as required, manually, strength and durability are hard to verify without physically breaking the repair.

Using technologies from the CAIRE project, LHT and its partners claim to have developed an automated system for assessing, designing and repairing damage to composite structures. It optimizes the repair before scanning the surface for contaminants, grinding out the damaged material and creating the fix, which is applied manually.