It bends without losing strength. So, it could be integrated on parts away from the fuselage that are prone to debris impact or bird strikes. It could help protect space equipment in a similar manner or be applied to defence products.

– Detlev Konigorski, Airbus Innovation Manager for Emerging Technologies and Concepts

The silk also has remarkable antibacterial properties, so we might be able to integrate it inside an aircraft cabin as a more hygienic material.”

Airbus and AMSilk aim to launch a prototype composite in 2019. This means exploring how the silk reacts when it is introduced into the resin matrixes used to manufacture carbon fibre reinforced polymers, before baking it in an autoclave.

Nature’s revolutionary best

The chance to work with an entirely new material opens a wealth of exciting possibilities, says Konigorski. “The majority of ingredients for the materials we use are well established; the table of elements is finite. Of course, we’ve used natural materials like wood and bamboo for centuries, but we cannot really influence the material.”

Bioengineering is truly revolutionary. AMSilk can recreate the building blocks of spider silk and influence it to create materials that wouldn’t naturally be that way.

“We haven’t even begun to scratch the surface here. Ultimately, this material could enable us to approach design and construction in an entirely new fashion.”

– Detlev Konigorski, Airbus Innovation Manager for Emerging Technologies and Concepts