Lamborghini has been working with carbon fibre composites for 30 years (see: Lamborghini: 30 years of carbon fibre.) The Lamborghini Aventador, launched in 2011, features a carbon fibre monocoque passenger cell. The company's other current production model, the Gallardo, employs carbon composite on the bodyshell and in the interior.
Small areas of visual damage to the carbon composite exterior of a Lamborghini car are generally no problem since add-on components are easy to replace. Damage to the load-bearing structure of the vehicle is more difficult to deal with and calls for specialist know-how, because the extent and implication of the damage can only be assessed by experts.
For this reason, Lamborghini service centres do not carry out this kind of repair work themselves. The repair expertise rests with the Lamborghini Advanced Composite Research Center (ACRC) in Sant’Agata Bolognese, Italy.
When a car is damaged and taken to a Lamborghini service centre, the dealer photographs and documents the damage and sends this information to the ACRC, where experts evaluate it.
In the event of possible structural damage, one of the flying doctors gets on the next plane with his tool kit. In the service centre workshop he uses non-destructive inspection (NDI) equipment to assess whether, in addition to the visible damage, there are any hidden cracks in the carbon fibre structure. He will then carry out a repair that is said to fully reinstate the physical performance of the structure. This is confirmed for the customer by means of a certificate.
Lamborghini promises that the repaired area is 100% the same quality as the original part.
Collaboration with Boeing
The idea for the flying doctor programme was created through the company's cooperation with Boeing. Lamborghini has been partnering with Boeing, the manufacturer of the 50% carbon composite 787 Dreamliner, through the Advanced Composite Structures Laboratory (ACSL) at the University of Washington in Seattle, USA.
Boeing has been working for some time with this kind of travelling specialist and has developed a system that enables carbon fibre repairs to be carried out using a very compact set of equipment.
At Lamborghini, the system was further developed to suit the requirements of the automotive industry.