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This film reports the interview of Sophie Senani, Airbus Group Research Engineer, and Jean-François Létard, President of OliKrom within the framework of the ChoCOComp program, a disruptive innovation in the inspection of composites in aeronautics

During the transport of the various parts of an Airbus from all over Europe to the final assembly line, the risk of an impact during transport, or even during assembly, cannot be excluded. Non-destructive ultrasonic testing guarantees the identification of any damage for repair, but this phase is very time consuming, about two hours per square meter.

The paint developed by OliKrom allows the naked eye to identify any impact above a certain threshold. The color of the paint changes under the effect of a pressure variation following an impact. The idea is to facilitate the detection of impact zones during assembly. Ultrasound inspection would eventually be limited to useful areas that could be damaged, as opposed to the entire structure, which would save considerable time in production.

Today, the proof of concept has been validated on real parts, and current work focuses on adapting pressure thresholds in accordance with the specific specifications of the parts in question, so that the industrialization phase can be tackled. “The added value of our partnership is an undeniable synergy. Our expertise in aeronautical materials combined with that of OliKrom in intelligent pigments leads to very innovative solutions for our needs. Moreover, OliKrom is an industrial company and this is clearly an advantage because their approach is to offer finished products on the market; this allows us to go faster in the search for solutions,” concludes Sophie Senani (read Sophie Senani’s full testimony on the Airbus Group – OliKrom collaboration).

The ChoCOComp program was supported by the French National Research Agency and the DGA. It is a multi-partner project, academic and industrial (National Research Agency).


INTERVIEW: Sophie SENANI, surface and coating researcher and Jean-François LÉTARD President of OliKrom

Sophie SENANI: The ChoCoComp project is a multi-partner collaborative project initiated at the request of Airbus, which includes seven partners, three universities: Pierre-et-Marie-Curie University in Paris 6, the Institute of Condensed Matter Chemistry in Bordeaux and the Pprime Institute in Poitiers, as well as two SMEs, OliKrom in Bordeaux and MAPAERO.

This project consists of meeting a need of Airbus, since when an aircraft is immobilized following a tool fall, for example, on the structural materials, in order to verify the integrity of these materials, we sought to have a paint that will respond and change color when it is subjected to an impact.

Jean-François LÉTARD: OliKrom, with the support of the consortium, has been able to bring this technology to maturity. We develop pigments and it is these pigments, when they are subjected to pressure, that will change color, so there is a pigment synthesis stage, a formulation stage where the paint is prepared and a stage where the paints are deposited on the aeronautical parts

Sophie SENANI: This breakthrough French innovation was made possible thanks to the support of the ANR (National Research Agency) and the DGA (General Directorate of Armaments) and thanks to this we were able to co-patent the technology.

Jean-François LÉTARD: Today, this technology has reached maturity, and we can envisage applications in civil and military aeronautics, but also in everyday life, such as motorcycle helmets and sports equipment.