The Engineering Behind Why It’s Too Hot to Fly

I’ve read a lot of articles talking about an interesting fact: this summer was so hot that in some cities like Phoenix aircraft could not fly. If you are an engineer or a pilot, it should not be a surprise that in hot weather an aircraft’s performance can deteriorate until the point it is unsafe to attempt take off. But maybe you have not considered all the possible causes of why it’s too hot to fly. I will try to explain things in a very basic and simplified way, for the benefit of those who are not familiar with these phenomena.

American Airlines canceled dozens of flights out of Phoenix on June 19 due to extreme heat. (AP Photo/Matt York)

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Why Startups and New Players are Driving Innovation in the Space 2.0 Arena

With a clear mission in mind, huge government funding and thousands of talented scientists, the early pioneers of space exploration were disrupting innovators, able to achieve what many thought impossible. Then organizations grew in size, and projects and goals multiplied while public funding was often in doubt. Despite other significant success, this led to a slowdown in the innovation pace. Now, another wave of innovators has come: Space 2.0 players.

With no history, no legacy of tools and processes and no constraints in workflow design, they were able in a few years to attract huge private funds and challenge the leadership of the big established players.

Both the old players and the newcomers rely on simulation, but I see a big difference in the results they get in terms of efficiency, costs and innovation pace. The secret is in how they implement it. Continue reading

Lightening the Load with Composites and Digital Prototyping

Airlines and aircraft manufacturers are doing everything they can to lower their costs, including lightweighting every component possible, which can improve fuel efficiency. The industry spends more than a hundred billion dollars on fuel every year. While the price of oil is relatively low today, manufacturers and airlines must look ahead to the more than 25-year life span of the average airplane, assuming someday prices will rise again. Cost is a major driver, but the industry is also committed to reducing emissions during flight, and reducing fuel burn from the engine helps achieve this goal. Lightweighting, then, is one of the most important trends in the aerospace industry, and using composites, that can offer the required strength but at lower weight than metals, in manufacturing is a key strategy.

aircraft cargo area

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The Next Generation of Aircraft is Different from Anything You’ve Seen Before

A few weeks ago I got a very close look at a F-35, and was able to talk a bit with one of the test pilots. “This is not an aircraft,” he told me. It’s more a kind of spaceship.” I believe he is right. This is not an aircraft, at least not the kind of aircraft we are used to.

Two generations, face to face

Courtesy G.P. Torriani

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Hang Gliding Takes Quantum Leap with Simulation

hang gliding simulation side viewSince its creation, hang gliding has progressed solely — and often painfully — through experimentation. But engineering simulation is starting to change that.

The German inventor and flight pioneer Otto Lilienthal made over 2,000 flights as long as 820 feet in gliders he designed and flew in the 1890s. He died in 1896 from injuries sustained in a glider crash, but his well-documented accounts of theories and experiences with flight influenced many of the early aviation pioneers, including the Wright Brothers. Continue reading

In-Flight Icing Simulation: 3-D CFD-Icing is Here to Stay

3-D computational fluid dynamics simulation of in-flight icing (3-D CFD-icing) has achieved considerable advances in the last decade , and many dynamic OEMs and second tier suppliers are using them to speed icing certification. Yet, others remain on the fence, using technologies from three decades ago.

inflight icing simulation

The different characteristics of ice, at different locations on an aircraft:
can that be done in 2-D?

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Earth-to-Space Delivery Services℠ Faster and Affordable with ANSYS Simulation

earth to space delivery systemsThe rapid surge in consumer demand for mobility, connectivity and content has fundamentally changed the space industry. Space, as the ultimate vantage point, is a necessary destination to connect 55 percent of the world that does not have access to the internet. With miniaturization of technologies, capabilities that until now required large satellites the size of a bus with a billion-dollar price tag are being challenged by small satellites that are 12 inches long and weigh only 9 pounds. When constellations of 24 to 800 of these small satellites are established in low Earth orbit, the world will enjoy global WiFi, maritime connectivity, real-time navigation maps, precise weather forecasts, virtual reality in space and more. Continue reading

Is Uber Actually a Space Company? The Discussion at AIAA SciTech

While attending the AIAA SciTech aerospace event in January I was surprised when the discussion turned to Uber as a space company. Seriously? I understand that Uber is revolutionizing the business model for transporting people, but I thought it was purely terrestrial.

Even though this statement was said somewhat tongue in cheek, with a stretch of the imagination you can see how it can be argued that Uber’s business model is predicated on monetizing data — GPS in this case — that is a product of the space industry. From this follows the (somewhat tenuous) proposition that Uber should be considered a part of this industry.

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Mitigating Risk of UAV Collisions Using Explicit Dynamics

drone UAV explicit dynamicsUnmanned aerial vehicles, in short UAVs or drones, have become very popular both in the industrial and consumer space. With the number of units expected to reach 67 million by 2021 the potential for accidents and collisions with manned air vehicles is real. Understanding and mitigating the impact of UAV collisions using pervasive engineering simulation and explicit dynamics will be the key to helping accelerate the acceptance of drones into commercial airspace without sacrificing safety. Continue reading

How to Make a Full Spectrum Disruption in Aerospace: AIAA SciTech 2017 Preview

aiaa scitech 2017 ansys booth 412January brings with it not only New Year’s resolutions, but also a time to look forward to one of the highlights in the aerospace calendar — the AIAA SciTech 2017 conference takes place January 9th-13th in Grapevine, Texas, with the theme of full spectrum disruption in aerospace.

And what has been more disruptive in recent years than the rise and acceptance of the commercial space industry? What was not so long ago the terrain of dreamers is now part of the mainstream space industry. Long standing companies in the industry have had to rapidly adjust to this new paradigm. Continue reading