Airbus and RWTH Collaborate in Materials Research

Copyright: Airbus/RWTH Aachen

As part of the “Airbus Advanced Metal Research Program,” Airbus collaborates with the RWTH Chair for Corrosion and Corrosion Protection (KKS) in a research project spanning several years. The chair, which belongs to the RWTH Foundry Institute, is one of only three European partners in this research program. The collaboration will investigate materials and manufacturing processes for the future use of metallic materials in aircraft construction.


The medium-term goal of the ongoing collaboration is to establish RWTH and KKS as a strategic site for fundamental research that is relevant to Airbus. This is to be achieved by pooling expertise from both KKS and Airbus in the area of corrosion resistant materials. The program seeks to integrate the latest materials and manufacturing technologies and to apply state-of-the-art analysis methods to predict the long-term behavior of components produced in this way. The overall budget of the program is more than one million euros.

Light Metals Continue to be Indispensable

As Claudio Dalle Donne, head of Materials, Process and Testing at Airbus Airframe Engineering, explains: “Although the share of composite materials in aircraft construction has strongly increased in recent years, light metals are still indispensable. The optimized use of metallic alloys is only possible through a fundamental understanding of the materials. For this reason, we are pleased to collaborate with a research partner such as the Chair for Corrosion and Corrosion Protection, which has long-standing expertise in this field.”

“RWTH stands for innovation in materials development. The collaboration with Airbus offers great potential, as two strong partners are joining forces in this area. We are glad that that our expertise is in high demand, both nationally and internationally, and we look forward to intensive joint research activities," comments Professor Ulrich Rüdiger, rector of RWTH Aachen University.

The program seeks to advance materials development in the aircraft industry to achieve further weight reduction. The initial focus is placed on the long-term behavior of aluminum alloys under environmental influences.


Pictured are representatives from Airbus and RWTH in the final assembly hall of the A320 family in Hamburg. From left to right: Dr. Matthias Knüwer (Airbus, Team Leader Aluminum Materials), Christoph Altenbach (RWTH, Team Leader Lightweight Materials), Christian Engel (Airbus, Metallic Materials R&T Integrator), Professor Daniela Zander (RWTH, Chair for Corrosion and Corrosion Protection), Dr. Theodor Hack (Airbus, Senior Expert for Metallic Surfaces), and Oliver Beyß (RWTH, Lightweight Materials).