The University of Malta is undertaking a research project on new materials which can be used in the building of airplanes to make them efficient and safe. At the same time, pilots and technicians working in the industry of plane maintenance are following University courses to update their skills and adapt to an ever-changing industry.
An airplane is made of sheets of metal and other material and needs to have a light enough framework to give it a chance to take off, however at the same time it needs to be strong enough to withstand all the stress which it goes through during the flight.
The Faculty of Engineering at the University of Malta is carrying out project to create materials which will make airplanes more efficient and safe. Dr Glenn Cassar, an engineer and lecturer, says that the safety of airplanes remains the main priority.
Dr Cassar said that “we are developing composite materials, a mixture of materials which together will help to increase their performance. Our students work on this project by testing and developing these materials to see where the flaws are. They will ascertain how they can improve the performance of the aircraft to improve the safety of these planes.”
In the laboratory, the materials are subjected to strong force by means of special equipment to see how much stress they can withstand.
The aviation industry is benefiting in another way from the University of Malta as the Institute of Aerospatial Technology, which was set up in 2014, has introduced courses to update pilots and maintenance technicians. Prof. David Zammit Mangion says that these refresher courses are required by the very nature of this industry.
He said, “there is more automation. More computers on board. The role of the pilot has changed. Their training is not always adequate. And certain skills are being lost, or are not being developed enough within the training programme.”
Maintenance technicians are being encouraged to attend refresher courses on theory at the University to build on what they would have learned at MCAST in the past. This year, 14 technicians, many of them employed by Lufthansa Technik and SR Techniks, are following this course.