Aerospace and defense companies share many commonalities in the type of products they produce, the harsh environments within which these products operate and their overriding focus on safety and reliability. However, each of the commercial aircraft, space and defense sectors faces unique market trends. One common response to the pressures they each face is to deliver excellence in engineering simulation and how it is applied to deliver tangible business impact.
But how do they do this?
I’m pleased to share with you a publication that gives insight from industry leaders such as Pratt and Whitney, Raytheon, SpaceX, Crane Aerospace and Rolls Royce among others. You can download a copy of the publication by clicking here Excellence in Engineering Simulation Best of Aerospace and Defense Edition.
Let me share some of the highlights from the articles in the publication.
Excellence in Commercial Aerospace Engineering Simulation
Volatile and rising fuel cost coupled with “green” initiatives drive the development of technologies to reduce the cost and environmental impact of flight. Pratt and Whitney, known for game-changing product innovations, describe how they deployed simulation to design an engine that delivered over 15 percent improvement in fuel burn while reducing its noise footprint and carbon emissions.
Competition to capture the rise in air travelers means an increased focus on passenger comfort. Aircraft climate control experts at Tianjin and Purdue Universities employed systems-level simulation and detailed thermal analysis to meet industry standards for environmental control system (ECS) design.
Innovation must be achieved in an evolving, highly regulated safety framework while controlling development costs. To certify braking systems for safety, software developers must test for each possible input to the brake control software — as well as for a broad range of operating events. Crane Aerospace & Electronics performed these tests virtually and has been able to meet government guidelines, tight budgets and even tighter schedules.
Excellence in Engineering Simulation in Defense
While striving to deliver the technological edge in the least amount of time, many defense organizations and their suppliers must operate on the principle of design for affordability. By using simulation, Piaggio Aero Industries converted an executive jet into an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) in one-third the time that would have been required employing traditional design methods.
As the nature of military engagements continues to evolve, the importance of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) has never been higher. Lighter-than-air blimps can replace or complement drones on ISR missions. Worldwide Aeros Corp. used multiphysics analysis to design new airships 40 percent faster than for the previous generation. The savings arose from the ability to share data between simulation types and run automated processes. Virtual testing provided far more accurate estimates of performance than traditional methods.
Engineering for sustainment and optimizing operational availability of assets is critical for the defense community. By leveraging the power of multiphysics simulation, Raytheon Corporation achieved robust electronics design for high-power antennas and microwave components. The simulations helped engineers understand how failure could occur and how to correct the design to prevent it.
Excellence in Engineering Simulation in Space
With the emergence of commercial space organizations and new space-faring nations, product development processes in the space industry are changing at a rapid pace. Firefly Space Systems, one of the leaders in the “new space” industry, explains how the company changed its culture to include a diverse group of engineers and flatten the engineering function.
But whether for new space or old space, products must perform first time in one of the most extreme operating environments. Because conditions change quickly during atmospheric flight, space vehicles require thermal insulation to protect the payload and sensitive internal equipment from generated heat. Coupled multiphysics simulation saved SpaceX hundreds of thousands of payload-equivalent dollars per launch by calculating the exact amount of insulation required to safeguard the launch vehicle — approximately 50 pounds less than the amount used in the first demonstration flight.
And it wouldn’t be a race if it wasn’t about delivering products in the shortest possible time. This means reducing reliance on physical testing by building confidence in simulation. Simulation gave NPO Energomash designers confidence that their force measurement system could test rocket engines with up to 800 metric tons-force of thrust.
In addition to their reliance on advanced simulation technologies and the ability to perform virtual prototypes, aerospace and defense industry leaders are also focused on design process compression. While investigating heat flux prediction points for improved engine efficiency, Rolls-Royce Germany reduced its coupled simulation time by 80 percent using a cloud approach — and without building prototypes.
Aerospace and defense companies have pioneered the use of modeling and simulation and continue to do so. I hope you enjoy reading the publication and celebrating the industry’s commitment to excellence in engineering simulation.