Lufthansa Technik, an arm of Lufthansa Airlines, has filed patent applications for a new scarf joining robot that it says will significantly improve repair procedures for structures made of fibre-reinforced composites (FRCs). The robot, which was developed through LHT's Composite Adaptable Inspection and Repair (CAIRE) project, is mounted on an aircraft component using suction cups. The robot's specially developed software scans and diagnoses damage, identifies the surface and calculates the scarf joint
's form and a milling path before cutting out the damaged material. Once this is complete, technicians can cut repair layers to size, insert them into the 3D scarfing surface the robot created and finish by gluing and curing the newly inserted part. The traditional process for diagnosing and repairing damage to FRC-based fuselage and wing structures requires more time and effort than the new automated process, so Lufthansa says targeted use of the robot will result in time and cost savings. The company also claims the robot will significantly increase quality by allowing for brand new repair geometries.