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 testingBuy the report here.

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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 (2021 - 2023) 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.

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GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.