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MEETING THE challenge of aircraft design

To achieve the goal of developing an aircraft that meets customer expectations, Airbus is now using Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE Platform to drive a global collaborative solution


irlines today often focus on the flight experience of the passengers. The

Airbus A350 XWB (eXtra-Wide Body), for example, is designed with the customer in mind – from cabin ergonomics to the in-flight entertainment. It also combines advances in aerodynamic wing design with an intelligent airframe; and both the fuselage and wing structures are made of lightweight carbon-fibre. The advanced wing design also makes the XWB a quieter and more aerodynamically efficient aircraft. To achieve this goal, Airbus has

deployed Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE Platform to drive a global collaborative solution – from engineering to manufacturing. Didier Evrard, executive vice president, head of A350 XWB program at Airbus, commented: “When we started the program, we really needed to develop methods and tools which were radically different from the A380, not only to ensure that all engineers involved in development worked on the same design platform, but also to have them communicate in a single environment.” On the A350 XWB program, up to 4,000 people were connected daily to the platform, with 85% of them coming from the supply chain. Previously, each site had its own Digital

Mock-Up (DMU) and everyone worked separately, resulting in extended design time and errors. Antoine Scotto, head of the PLM program for the A350 XWB at Airbus from 2007 to 2011, commented: “This time, we federated our development platforms under one umbrella – ENOVIA – and provided Airbus employees and the extended enterprise with access to this unique data reference. With ENOVIA, synchronization takes only a few minutes, against several days previously.” By re-engineering its development processes, Airbus has facilitated collaboration at the design and development phase all the way


through to production. “We had many challenges including a very aggressive development schedule and the need to ramp-up production quickly to satisfy our delivery commitments,” Evrard explained. “With 3DEXPERIENCE, our design quality and efficiency have considerably improved.”

THE DESIGN PROCESS CATIA was used to design the aircraft’s structure, the installation systems, the tubing, the composites parts, and the electrical systems completely in 3D. For example, Airbus reinvented the way the hydraulic and electrical systems sized and installed. “With CATIA, we implemented a full 3D

Master approach to design the electrical harness installation for the A350 XWB, which simplifies the process and improves overall design quality,” explained Scotto. “Engineers have reduced the time needed to update an installation plan by 50%, and decreased the design change requests generated when creating manual 2D drawings by 25%. Everything was installed, fitted and verified digitally, and if there were any errors they were corrected before physical installation.” The DMU enabled Airbus to link

manufacturing with the design office, and changes made here were communicated to manufacturing in real time, dramatically reducing tooling production time. Engineers performed realistic nonlinear

analyses with SIMULIA to predict, very early in the design process, the strength and behaviour of the aircraft’s structure. “We created very large simulation

models based on the CATIA design information and performed full-scale, nonlinear structural simulations,” said Scotto. “With SIMULIA, we transitioned from an approximate, linear analysis approach, to a more accurate nonlinear analysis, which gives us a deeper understanding of how the structure really

CATIA was used to design the aircraft’s structure, the installation systems, the tubing, the composites parts, and the electrical systems completely in 3D

performs in a given situation.” From manufacturing engineering to

plant operations, DELMIA was used to secure program lead time and ensure aircraft manufacturability, but it also enhanced the company’s ability to design and optimise industrialisation from assembly station to elementary assembly operations and support automation. For the Airbus A330, the final assembly line cycle took around four months. By starting the cabin installation very early, the A350 XWB assembly process was shortened by 30%. Dassault Systèmes Industry Services support was instrumental in implementing and deploying the complete A350 XWB environment. Of additional benefit, while in past programs customer services relied on manually drawn 2D illustrations, digital continuity provided by the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform enabled Airbus to implement customer service processes that directly reuse the DMU. For example, using 3DVIA, Airbus implemented a Structural Repair and Maintenance (SRM) system, enabling access, query and navigation within the DMU, to identify structural parts for allowable damage or repair. This made it much easier to identify parts as well as remove the manual work required to create the 2D illustrations and call-outs. The maiden flight of the A350 XWB

was on June 14, 2013. The A350 XWB team’s newest challenge is to accelerate production ramp-up, in collaboration with their supply chain, to meet Airbus’ delivery commitments. Evrard concluded: “With Dassault Systèmes’ solutions, we introduced harmony in our processes, methods and tools, and saved precious time that we spent, instead, on innovation.”

Image copyright Airbus

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