Researchers with Singapore's A*STAR Aerospace Programme are working on over 50 multidisciplinary projects to pioneer manufacturing techniques, safety inspection devices, and analytical methods to improve flight management.

Laser-aided additive manufacturing (top) can be used to create airfoils (bottom) from high-strength alloys. (2014 A*STAR)

One major problem for the industry is the infiltration of water into the aircraft body, especially in the lightweight honeycomb structures found in the tail and wings. Water detection using a vacuum method identifies areas where water has entered. New methods have been developed for repairing damaged aircraft parts or manufacturing new designs using laser-aided additive manufacturing, or 3D printing.

Other high-tech tools include a system that uses electromagnetic waves to detect slight variations in the thickness or composition of components that may be the result of corrosion, and water- and ice-repellent coatings that protect parts from condensation, corrosion, and mold.

Researchers have written simulations that identify the best way to arrange electronics on an aircraft to minimizing interference, enabling airlines to provide customers with wireless services without compromising safety. Another useful software provides pilots and air-traffic controllers with clearer imagery by removing the effects of haze, fog, and smoke.