The aerospace and defense industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by the uptake of advanced technology, and growing importance of technologies such as hypersonics and advanced materials. 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 Innovation in defense: aircraft wing stress testing. Buy the report here.
However, not all innovations are equal and nor do they follow a constant upward trend. Instead, their evolution takes the form of an S-shaped curve that reflects their typical lifecycle from early emergence to accelerating adoption, before finally stabilizing and reaching maturity.
Identifying where a particular innovation is on this journey, especially those that are in the emerging and accelerating stages, is essential for understanding their current level of adoption and the likely future trajectory and impact they will have.
110 innovations will shape the aerospace and defense industry
According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the aerospace and defense industry using innovation intensity models built on over 206,000 patents, there are 110 innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.
Within the emerging innovation stage, aircraft fuel cell APUs, self-calibrating scanners, and vibration suppression devices are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Aircraft ultrasonic inspection, aircraft power distribution network, and contour scanning interferometry are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are precision-guided firearms and aircraft power management, which are now well established in the industry.
Innovation S-curve for the aerospace and defense industry
Aircraft wing stress testing is a key innovation area in aerospace and defense
Aircraft wing stress testing involves simulating forces that jet wings experience while flying. It involves forcing the wings upwards as well as fatigue tests, among others.
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 40+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established aerospace and defense companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of aircraft wing stress testing.
Key players in aircraft wing stress testing – 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 aircraft wing stress testing
|Company||Total patents (2010 - 2022)||Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies|
|Bombardier||8||Unlock Company Profile|
|Rolls-Royce||15||Unlock Company Profile|
|Embraer||15||Unlock Company Profile|
|Korea Aerospace Industries||1||Unlock Company Profile|
|MBDA||3||Unlock Company Profile|
|Spirit AeroSystems||2||Unlock Company Profile|
|Subaru||13||Unlock Company Profile|
|KKR||5||Unlock Company Profile|
|Lockheed Martin||10||Unlock Company Profile|
|National Aeronautics and Space Administration||3||Unlock Company Profile|
|Ultra Electronics||8||Unlock Company Profile|
|Topcon||6||Unlock Company Profile|
|Siemens||8||Unlock Company Profile|
|Verdane Capital||2||Unlock Company Profile|
|Parker Hannifin||6||Unlock Company Profile|
|SAP||3||Unlock Company Profile|
|CEA||3||Unlock Company Profile|
|Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique||2||Unlock Company Profile|
|Snecma||7||Unlock Company Profile|
|Northrop Grumman||5||Unlock Company Profile|
|General Electric||61||Unlock Company Profile|
|U.S. Department of Defence||17||Unlock Company Profile|
|Siemens Energy||14||Unlock Company Profile|
|BAE Systems||27||Unlock Company Profile|
|Leonardo||5||Unlock Company Profile|
|Raytheon Technologies||33||Unlock Company Profile|
|RTX||33||Unlock Company Profile|
|Textron||4||Unlock Company Profile|
|Safran||27||Unlock Company Profile|
|Boeing||130||Unlock Company Profile|
|Airbus||35||Unlock Company Profile|
|Honeywell International||1||Unlock Company Profile|
|Deutsches Zentrum fur Luft- und Raumfahrt||7||Unlock Company Profile|
|Luna Innovations||11||Unlock Company Profile|
|Ecole normale superieure de Cachan||8||Unlock Company Profile|
|New Mexico Tech (NMT)||3||Unlock Company Profile|
|Drone Racing League||1||Unlock Company Profile|
|InfraDrone||3||Unlock Company Profile|
|Aerobotics||13||Unlock Company Profile|
|Centre National Research Scientific||6||Unlock Company Profile|
|Galvion||6||Unlock Company Profile|
|ELTA||3||Unlock Company Profile|
|The French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission||9||Unlock Company Profile|
Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics
Boeing is the leading patent filer in aircraft wing stress testing. The company innovates testing to ensure maximum safety for its aircraft and creates solutions to ensure that the wings are tested in conditions which are as close to reality as possible. Other leading companies in this area include General Electric and Airbus, which are both developing new technologies in the field – with Airbus utilizing the technology for extremely similar reasons to Boeing. Other key patent filers in the industry include United Technologies, BAE Systems and Safran.
In terms of application diversity, New Mexico Tech is the leader, followed by The French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission and Galvion. By geographic reach, BAE Systems is the leader, followed by Aerobotics and Luna Innovations.
Innovation in this sector will provide solutions to ensure safer testing as well as to effectively develop faster aircraft, including supersonic aircraft.
To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the aerospace and defense industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Aerospace & Defense.