Airbus know-how finds new applications through licensing

12 September 2012 Feature story

Airbus is the source for thousands of patents that result from the constant innovation applied to its aircraft product line, as well as its production methods and processes. 

In addition to benefitting directly from these proprietary technologies, Airbus also supports the release of certain patent portfolio know-how through licensing arrangements with outside companies. Such activity generates revenue that Airbus could apply back into its own research and development, while licensees may develop the technologies further – opening a feedback loop that enables Airbus to improve its own application of the technologies, or reduce overall costs for their in-house use.

This licensing of approved Airbus know-how is coordinated through its EADS parent company’s technology licensing initiative, which is backed by the EADS Corporate Technical Office’s Innovation Nursery.

At the ILA Berlin Air Show today, two new licensing agreements were signed with industrial partners: one involving Airbus’ Avionics Full DupleX Switched Ethernet (AFDX®) backbone network technology, and the other with a patented electrical connector concept.

The AFDX® data network contract with Vector Informatik GmbH allows this German-based company to use the network technology in its development, analysis and test tools for avionics networks.  The AFDX® data network was conceived by Airbus to facilitate safe and secure data transfer – particularly in demanding applications – while also enabling the simplification of data exchange when compared to previous protocols. Inter-system communication networks based on the AFDX® data network are flight-proven on the A380 jetliner and A400M military airlifter, and this solution supports more digital data transfer for smart sensors, smart actuators, Ethernet communication and other applications, along with being well suited for time-critical systems such as aircraft flight controls.

Today’s other signed agreement is a memorandum of understanding with Auto-Kabel Management GmbH, setting the framework for its licensed use of Airbus’ Plug & Twist electrical connectors and their components.  Plug & Twist connectors provide the form-fitting contact of at least three conductive surfaces, which are extensively compressed when the connection is made. This design ensures safe, high quality and cost-efficient contacts for high-current connections, while the contact quality is unaffected by vibration, corrosion or other environmental influences.  Auto-Kabel’s access to the Plug & Twist technology will position this German company to expand its connector product portfolio, particularly with the new generation of electric vehicles in mind.