Thermoplastics for sustainable aviation

Anticipating on a new Urban Air Mobility market, and the continuous demand for lighter and more sustainable aircraft materials, this comprehensive research program will develop the capabilities of thermoplastic composites as a primary structure in aeronautics. Developing and validating thermoplastic structural components and corresponding advanced manufacturing processes for high volume production.


Januari 2022 - June 2025



To enable new ways of sustainable aviation, lighter and more aerodynamic aircraft will be a prerequisite. Fibre-reinforced thermoplastic composites are a material crucial in this transformation as they offer the performance and versatility to make this possible: lightweight, freer shapes, recyclable and easier to maintain. This project focusses on the development of primary structures for electric Urban Air Mobility vehicles. This new market is a forerunner in electrification and the expectation is that these vehicles will serve as a stepping stone for the implementation of thermoplastic materials and production processes in large scale commercial flight. Pursuing a leading position for the Dutch manufacturing industry in this new market and advancing sustainable aviation is the goal of this project.

Thermoplastic primary structures

The application of thermoplastic composites in aviation will be advanced by designing, producing and validating primary structures such as tail, wing and fuselage sections. These thermoplastic composite primary structures, which carry the flight, ground and pressurisation loads, should achieve TRL6 in 2022 to 2024. Because the technologies must be suitable for large production volumes and a variety of models (thousands of UAMs per year), a high degree of automation and thus digitization of the production processes is of great importance. In this process SAM|XL engineers are contributing their expertise to enable smart manufacturing of an orthogrid stiffened thermoplastic composite panel concept, by an automated system to process mould blocks and stiffener preforms.



This project has received funding from the "Subsidieregeling R&D Mobiliteitssectoren (RDM)" by the Rijksdienst voor Ondernemend Nederland.