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INEGI and partners display prototypes of innovative concept for modular aircraft

28 January 2020
The objective was fulfilled: to create a new concept of modular and flexible aircraft, to compete with other interurban air transport, improving global performance, efficiency and sustainability. The FLEXCRAFT project is nearing completion and the final event, which took place at the Instituto Superior Técnico (IST), in Lisbon, featured an exhibition of demonstration prototypes.

During the event, participants were able to see the aircrafts modularity by seeing the mockup on display of the fuselage and cabin built at full scale. Combined with a virtual reality experience, it was possible to see the reconfigurations of the cabin for different missions or operational contexts, such as transporting people or goods, or relief and assistance operations. This approach allows to save operation time in the ground and to amplify the capacity for intermodality.

In addition to ensuring the usability and versatility of the concept, the designed aircraft meets the technical and functional requirements of flight and operation, as demonstrated by the 1:10 scale model also exposed. Fully electric, the structure of this prototype was produced using different manufacturing processes and materials with INEGI’s help.


To get here, it was necessary to study and compare materials and production processes for composites to determine which are the most promising in terms of cost, performance and eco-efficiency.

This task was carried out by the INEGI team and the result of this work was also evident in the event, in the form of the tail wing of a flight surface of the FLEXCRAFT aircraft. Conceived using advanced simulation tools, this component was later produced by resin transfer molding (RTM) in a single phase (one-shot process) - a process chosen for its cost and quality advantages.

This process was further optimized with the use of sensing equipment to monitor pressure and temperature in real time, during production.


At the end of the project, Embraer Portugal is now responsible for assessing the feasibility of industrialization and defining potential future studies that will cement the evolution of the FLEXCRAFT concept into a real product.
As explained by Rui Gomes, responsible for the project at INEGI, "concentrating the action on three parallel lines of development and respective demonstrators allowed us to gradually validate the solutions and leverage the maturation of technologies critical to this concept, thus contributing to the creation of a product in the near future ".

The FLEXCRAFT project, co-promoted by INEGI, SET (Sociedade de Engenharia e Transformacao SA), Almadesign, Embraer Portugal and Instituto Superior Técnico is co-financed by the COMPETE 2020 program, within the scope of the Support System for Research and Technological Development in co-promotion.
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