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Leonardo wins National Award for Innovation

With its environmentalprotection project in the aeronautical sector

Leonardo has won the most prestigious Italian award dedicated toinnovation, the National Award for Innovation. The initiative, promoted by the Cotec Foundation,annually studies the innovative projects of companies, universities, public administrations andindividual inventors. The award ceremony was held yesterday in the presence of the President of the Senate, Maria Elisabetta Alberti Casellati. Leonardo’s project, developed by its Aircraft division, will have a significant impact on eliminatingthe use of chromium in the corrosion protection processes for aluminum aerostructures, asrecommended by the European Union REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization andrestriction of CHemicals), which defines the hazards and risks associated with the use of certain chemicals.

Alessandro Profumo, Leonardo CEO, underlined: “The winning project is the result of the teamwork carried out in our laboratories, tangible proof of Leonardo's commitment to research anddevelopment of innovative technologies and solutions in the aerospace sector. Attention to rapidlychanging international scenario and the need to address these new stringent measures to limitenvironmental impact are priority issues for the company, which can offer an important contributionto sustainable growth of the sector".

The result achieved by Leonardo is a major innovation on a global scale that highlights the Company as a reference among the major international players in the sector for the elimination ofhexavalent chromium from all the anti-corrosion treatment phases of aluminum structures. The new process, that is now in the process of industrialisation, will be introduced across thecompany's production sites and then shared with other industries. The award-winning electrochemical treatment solution, for which a patent application has beenfiled, protects aluminum aerostructures, which make up about 80% of a conventional aircraft, fromoxidation. The innovation marks the transition from a process that involves the use of hexavalentchromium, a material recognised as toxic by REACH legislation, to a process that completelyeliminates its use, even in the pre-treatment and post-treatment phases. An ecologically-compliantalternative that is environmentally and economically sustainable has finally been devised: sulphurtartaricanodic oxidation. The experimentation phase of the project, which had already been selected as one of the winners of the Leonardo 2018 Innovation Award, involved an intensive series of tests in the laboratory, withthe testing of about 1,500 samples. This demonstrated that the process can obtain equivalent chemical-physical and mechanical performances to the process of anodising chromium.

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