The aerospace and defense industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by environmental concerns, demand for greater efficiency in air travel, and the growing importance of technologies such as additive manufacturing and developments in material sciences. In the last three years alone, there have been over 237,000 patents filed and granted in the aerospace and defense industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Advanced materials in defense: lightweight composite fuselage. Buy the report here.
According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which uses over 206,000 patents to analyze innovation intensity for the aerospace and defense industry, there are 110 innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.
Lightweight composite fuselage is a key innovation area in advanced materials
Light-weight composite fuselage refers to the use of a variety composite materials, such as fiber-reinforced polymers, to construct the outer covering of an aircraft’s fuselage. This construction results in significant weight savings compared to traditional construction materials like metals. A composite material is a combination of two or more different materials that are stronger than the individual components. Manufacturers are using composite materials to make aircraft that are more fuel efficient, more durable and lighter.
GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies. According to GlobalData, there are 110+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established aerospace and defense companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of lightweight composite fuselage.
Key players in lightweight composite fuselage – a disruptive innovation in the aerospace and defense industry
‘Application diversity’ measures the number of applications identified for each patent. It broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.
‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of countries each patent is registered in. It reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.
Patent volumes related to lightweight composite fuselage
Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics
With strong market positions in both commercial and military aerospace, US giant Boeing is the leading patent filer in lightweight composite fuselage designs, filing 2,633 patents from 2015 to 2023. Its European commercial airline rival Airbus ranks second with 2,276 patents, and Italy’s Leonardo is third but by a large margin, with 158 patents. This reflects the primacy of Airbus and Boeing’s position in the commercial aviation space, and the importance of lightweight aerostructures to remain competitive in that market.
In terms of application diversity, Euro-Composites, Diehl Aircabin and JAMCO Corp are the top three leaders. Euro-Composites is also involved in lightweight constructions for the space and maritime industries. By geographic coverage of patent filings, Israel Aerospace Industries leads the pack, followed by Fischer Advanced Composites and General Dynamics.
To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the aerospace and defense industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Advanced Materials (AdMs) in Defense.