VOL. 20 July ISSUE YEAR 2019


in Vol. 20 - July Issue - Year 2019
INCASE2019: The International Conference on Advanced Surface Enhancement has its 1st edition on the 10th-12th of September!
Domenico Furfari, Technical Advisor for Structural Analysis at the Airbus Airframe Competence Centre

Domenico Furfari, Technical Advisor for Structural Analysis at the Airbus Airframe Competence Centre

In conjunction to this new surface enhancement event, MFN was able to get an interview with Domenico Furfari, Technical Advisor for Structural Analysis at the Airbus Airframe Competence Centre.

(?) MFN: Could you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?

(!) D. F.: I am Domenico Furfari and I have lived in Hamburg, Germany, since 2004 with my wife Antonietta. I have two children, Cecilia (16yr) and Edoardo (13yr). I enjoy travelling with my family and take any opportunity to spend a holiday with them, visiting at least one capital city every year. I share with my family the passion to learn about the history and culture of other countries. My professional background is structural analysis in the field of fatigue and damage tolerance of metallic airframes. I obtained my Engineering degree from the University of Pisa, Italy, awarded with 110/110 from the Aerospace department in the field of Aeronautic Structures. After a short stay at the University of Pisa as a research assistant, I moved to Cranfield University, UK, where I obtained my PhD from the School of Industrial and Manufacturing Science with a thesis on "Fatigue Short Crack Behaviour of Ti-10-2-3 Alloy for Helicopter Structural Applications".

(?) MFN: What are the main responsibilities in Airbus?

(!) D. F.: I joined Airbus Operations GmbH in Hamburg, Germany, in 2004 and worked in the repair department for fatigue and damage tolerance as Airbus Germany site coordinator for the EU Project (FP6). Since 2006, I have coordinated and led various research and technology projects at Airbus. Most projects are carried out in cooperation with research institutes and universities worldwide working together in the field of structural analysis and novel technologies for composite and metallic materials. My main areas of interest range from new technologies for fatigue enhancement of metallic material (e.g. Laser Shock Peening) to composite fastened joints and rivetless solutions for aircraft structural joints. I am currently Technical Advisor Structural Analysis at the Airbus Airframe Competence Centre.

(?) MFN: Can you tell us about major challenges that you face in performing your job? 

(!) D. F.: Innovation, creativity, and customer focus are key words that form part of the DNA of Airbus.  As part of the Airbus R&T organisation, I am constantly striving to deliver innovations that create new opportunities for our customers and bring benefits to passengers and the environment. To find new materials and technologies that comply with environmental protection regulations, inspiration for innovations can be seen as a challenge I face in performing my job, but at the same time, it brings strong motivation to my day-to-day work aiming to deliver the best product in the end. On the other hand, it requires that I keep abreast of what is happening in the research world, which can be seen as a challenge. The aim is to maintain a high level of research and to confirm Airbus' leadership in new technologies in strategic partnerships with universities and institutes.

(?) MFN: Can you tell us about some exciting developments in the area of surface enhancement? What do you think the research direction in this area will be in the next decade?

(!) D. F.: Surface technologies play an important role in the aerospace industry. The implementation of surface technology can be exploited for future aircraft as part of the design with the aim to reduce cost and/or weight of the component, and, for aircraft already in service, as part of so-called retrofit solutions aiming to extend the operational life of the component. Surface enhancement techniques based on conventional technologies such as shot peening, ultrasonic peening, flap peening, deep rolling, etc. have been state-of-the-art technologies for decades. More recent technologies such as Laser Shock Peening, Cavitation Peening, Ultrasonic Nanocrystal Surface Modification, etc., are part of the surface technology portfolio that is available for improving the mechanical performance of metallic airframes and affords us the opportunity of identifying the most suitable technology for a specific application. Nowadays, novel manufacturing processes such as 3D printing in combination with surface enhancement technologies can create additional value potential for the final product offered to the customer. Digital science, data analysis, and digital transformation add value, and creating a digital learning platform to control all the above processes and technologies represents a game changer on the path to Industry 4.0 for the next decade. Continuous efforts to develop and/or improve surface material processes that provide eco-friendly solutions to comply with REACH environmental legislation complete the profile of developments in the area of surface enhancement.

(?) MFN: You have a lot of experience collaborating with universities and institutes for development in surface enhancement. Can you share with us some of the challenges and opportunities that such collaborations present?

(!) D. F.: Partnerships and strategic cooperation with universities and research institutes all around the world play a vital role in developing skills that drive innovations for future aircraft and form part of the business vision and R&T strategy. The Aerospace Integration Research Centre (AIRC) at Cranfield University, UK, or the Innovation Centre in Shenzhen, China, are only some of the most recent examples of strategic cooperation between Airbus and research organisations. Leading research projects in cooperation with universities and research institutes provides a unique opportunity to continuously learn from high-level academia and to delve into the problems and foster a basic understanding of advanced materials or new technologies. Airbus is a global player leading in aeronautics and space, with more than 100 different nationalities within its business units located all around the world. Communication, data storage, and knowledge transfer across all functions are extremely important. One of the major challenges, besides the obvious economical one, is to ensure that the needs of all business areas are taken into account. Before starting a new project, it must be ensured that there is no overlap with already existing projects or investigations.

(?) MFN: There are some gaps between the scientific research community and industry practitioners. What do you think can be done to minimise this?

(!) D. F.: The scientific research community needs a clear understanding of what needs to be developed and, moreover, what the constraints are for "making the technology fly". Often high-potential technologies already available at medium Technology Readiness Level (TRL) are not given the opportunity of being applied in an industrial environment because they fail to demonstrate up-scaling potential and the ability to complete the final steps to achieve TRL. This gap can only be closed if the scientific research community is involved in the definition of the research activities. Industrial technology providers should bridge this gap, being part of the discussion loop to industrialise technology products for the end users. Industry practitioners are the end user with the goal of optimising, improving, or implementing new technologies not yet in service. Universities, research centres, and industrial technology providers should therefore deliver the specification requirements and constraints for the application of the on-the-go technologies to define and manage potential research programmes. A closed communication cycle between end users, universities or research institutes, and industrial technology providers requires a clear definition of the information needed for development or investigation, as well as sharing responsibilities among all actors involved. Each stakeholder should be aware of and perform their role in this closed loop communication: end users need to be responsible for providing appropriate requirements and constraints for applications to universities and research centres, which then deliver the results of the investigations to industrial providers in order to improve or develop the industrialisation of technologies and serve the scope of the end users.

(?) MFN: As an industry practitioner, what are you looking out for in research programmes carried out in universities or institutes?

(!) D. F.: Research cooperation with universities and research institutes is an opportunity to stay up to date with the latest technologies that may be used in non-aerospace industrial sectors. I strive to learn from high-level academia, who are deeply involved with new technologies and research fundamentals. Fundamentals research requires skills, equipment, and resources that may be unavailable in the industrial environment. Moreover, being part of the scientific research community provides an opportunity to spin off research topics and novel ways of research investigation otherwise not contemplated within a standard industrial R&T environment.

(?) MFN: Do you think a technical conference on surface enhancement like INCASE2019 is important?

(!) D. F.: There are many international conferences on specific surface technologies but the INCASE2019 conference brings together experts in many advanced surface technologies from all over the world under the same roof for the first time.

(?) MFN: We’re excited to have you share your talk at INCASE2019! What are you hoping to see within this conference?

(!) D. F.: I hope to gain increased visibility and awareness of new and emerging technologies and methods for improving and quantifying aircraft structure performance. This event gives me the opportunity to compare different technologies that have similar benefits, and eventually provide pros and cons for specific applications discussed in such a forum. There is no absolute best technology as such, but rather the right technology for a specific application. I look forward to receiving feedback after my talk and opening the discussion with experts in this field to learn and improve.

(?) MFN: What are some of the benefits that the delegates/participants will be able to take away from attending INCASE2019?

(!) D. F.: The main benefit of attending INCASE2019 is the extension of the network for multi-industry applications represented by delegates attending the event. The conference provides a great opportunity of identifying other key technologies for the realisation of aerospace applications. It is a unique opportunity to grow global strategic contacts and partnerships in the field of advanced surface technologies. The unique forum of experts from science, research organisations, and industry is an ideal environment to start the discussion and to open minds for future cooperation.

MFN would like to thank Domenico Furfari for this interview!

For Information:
AIRBUS Operations GmbH
Dr. Domenico Furfari
ZAL Tech Center
Hein-Saß-Weg 22
21129 Hamburg, Germany
Tel. +49.40.743 81820
E-mail: domenico.furfari@airbus.com