Thermoplastics for sustainable aviation

This comprehensive research program will develop the capabilities of thermoplastic composites as a primary structure in aeronautics. We will be developing and validating thermoplastic structural components and corresponding advanced manufacturing processes for high volume production.


To enable new ways of sustainable aviation, lighter and more aerodynamic aircraft will be a prerequisite. Fibre-reinforced thermoplastic composites offer the performance and versatility to make this possible. Lightweight, freer shapes, recyclable and easier to maintain. This project focusses on the development of primary structures for electric Urban Air Mobility vehicles. This new market is a forerunner in electrification and are expected to serve as a stepping stone for the implementation of thermoplastic materials in large scale commercial flight. The goal is to pursue a leading position for the Dutch manufacturing industry in this new market and advancing sustainable aviation.

Thermoplastic primary structures

The application of thermoplastic composites in aviation will be advanced by designing, producing and validating primary structures such as tail, wing and fuselage sections. Resulting in:

  • Thermoplastic composite primary structures achieving TRL6

  • High degree of automation and digitization of the production processes to enable large production volumes and a variety of models (thousands of UAMs per year)

In this process our engineers are focussing on enabling smart manufacturing of an orthogrid stiffened thermoplastic composite panel concept, by an automated system to process mould blocks and stiffener preforms.


TU Delft, Fokker, Airborne, Dutch-Shape, Aniform, DTC, KVE Composite Group, Photon First, Toray, NLR


This project has received funding from the “Subsidieregeling R&D Mobiliteitssectoren (RDM)” by the Rijksdienst voor Ondernemend Nederland.

Duration: January 2022 – June 2025