Leonardo Innovation Award 2017

Employees Category winners


Giacomo Bacchiega (Helicopter Division)

Unloader relief thermal valve, two stage protection (URTV)
The majority of aircraft actuation systems rely on constant pressure hydraulic power generated by variable displacement, mechanically actuated and pressure controlled hydraulic pumps. One of the possible failure modes of the hydraulic systems is associated with pump pressure regulator hardover, where the delivery flow of the pump reach the highest possible value due to inability of the regulator to correctly close the mechanical loop causing the system pressure to diverge. The state-of-the-art of aerospace hydraulic circuit technology does offer an overpressure protection but does not grant pressure preservation and a proper control of the  temperature excess. This design to provide a hydraulic system in which solenoid operated shut-off valves and oversized heat exchangers are not required to manage such condition. The proposed innovation delivers, in one single valve, a pressure control and a thermal active element capable to activate the temperature protection thru a reduction of the system pressure as a function of the failure severity, embodying effectively a second compensator. Results evaluation shows that unloading of nominal pressure will reduce the energy transferred to the fluid converted in heat, placing the system within the safe temperature operating envelope and permitting a temperature limiting control of the circuit with the pump failed. In case of temperature decrease or recovery of pump functionality, the system can return to its normal functions.





Luigi Pisu in team with Massimo Avalle and Gianni Iagulli (Aircraft Division)


The VELOGRAF Corporate R&D project aims at studying and experimenting an industrial proprietary process for Leonardo, which is based on the use of aircraft paints, composite material reinforcing fibres and epoxy resins, properly doped with graphene nanoplatelets in order to assure Low Radar Observability (LO). Specifically, the two following innovative ideas are being developed and prototyped together with CNIS (Nanotechnology applied to Engineering Research Centre of the Sapienza University of Rome):
  • Develop and experiment a combined design and production process for aircraft structural parts made of composite material with embedded graphene nanoparticles by modifying the LRI (Liquid Resin Infusion) proprietary production process in order to provide the aircraft composites with specific LO features, without altering the mechanical characteristics and limiting the weight increase.
  • Develop and experiment a process that assures an efficient graphene nanoparticles embedding within off-the-shelf aircraft paints to provide the product with the desired LO properties, maintaining the capability of adhering to the surface.




Massimo Bertacca in team con Marco Signorini (Defence Systems Division)

PattErn Recognition SystEm for Underwater targetS (PERSEUS)

PERSEUS is a completely automatic target recognition system for passive sonars, which does not require any operator intervention for the analysis and classification of acquired radiated noise signals. Until today, the classification of targets in passive sonars has been performed by expert operators, who, also with the help of automatic techniques, have carried out:
  • the acquired data analysis and association to possible acoustic sources (engines, propellers, pumps, etc.)
  • the comparison with data stored in dedicated target databases.


Compared to traditional methods, the PERSEUS allows for the use of:

  • novel “audio fingerprinting” and “speech recognition” algorithms,
  • bayesian optimal classification rules, 
thereby ensuring better performances with reduced computational costs, and improving all the classification methods currently used in passive sonar systems.





Tony Kinghorn e Robert Longmuir Sinclair (Airborne and Space Systems Division)

Radar Surveillance Systems

This patent is for a technique which allows radars to provide much better maritime surveillance capabilities. It overcomes the deficiencies of conventional designs by a new technique which exploits the different time correlations of genuine target echoes and unwanted (clutter) echoes from the sea surface. This technique not only improves the detectability of small targets (such as boats, periscopes and individual casualties in the water) but also allows airborne radars to operate at much higher altitudes than conventional techniques. Operation at high altitude greatly extends the range to the horizon, allowing the radar to search a very much larger area. Together these capabilities give Leonardo radar systems, which incorporate this patent, a unique competitive advantage.