Today’s environmental challenges are focusing the energies of the aerospace industry to deliver more sustainable travel. Programmes such as Sustainable Aviation and Clean Sky are coordinating research into reducing CO2 and beyond to achieve net zero carbon emissions. The impact of Covid-19 on air travel is only adding to the challenge.
To ensure the aerospace sector can continue to contribute to improving energy efficiency it must develop new, carbon-neutral platforms quickly, and the fastest route to greener flying is with digital engineering.
Going digital has been a major change through the Covid-19 crisis, and digital engineering offers the opportunity to transform existing work patterns in aerospace development. Digitisation will also enable new design methods, processes and thinking that will result in putting environmentally friendly aircraft into the skies faster.
CFMS is working with partner organisations to research new approaches across the aerospace design cycle.
Data-Driven Market Research has always been critical to support the first phases of a new platform development. So with the digitisation of data and the volume of information now being collected, demand analysis can be transformed.
CFMS recently highlighted the benefits of this approach in a project using data from Glasgow airport. Through complex, real-world data analysis, the project identified specific demand requirements for future, carbon-neutral aircraft that would provide the most improvements.
Once market requirements have been optimised, design teams can shorten overall development cycles by Design Optioneering. This involves defining a set of design options using a model-based approach; then coupling this model with computational design optimisation methods. By systematically searching through the defined range of alternatives, this approach can identify the designs that best meet the problem objectives while satisfying design constraints.
This enables designers to automate the evaluation of the design space and provides a richer insight into potential solutions more quickly.
To further improve the design cycle, computational fluid dynamics (CFD) can now be used with artificial intelligence (AI) to accelerate the exploration of the design space and obtain optimised aerodynamic solutions in a shorter timescale and with considerably less computational resources. For example, by using AI-enabled CFD, CFMS engineers improved the aerodynamic performance of an aerofoil by 15% by using an automated process for optimising the aerofoil geometry. Such an improvement alone would have a significant impact on reducing emissions in future.
Identifying the best design for a product requires developing an optimised internal structure, which minimises costs and weight, yet ensures product safety and performance. Automated Structural Optimisation processes allow aircraft manufacturers to automatically generate alternatives to a baseline platform more quickly and without constraint from design preconceptions.
Digital twin technologies are already becoming adopted to shorten development and testing and manage uncertainty in sustainable aerospace, Digital Twins for Propulsion will help engineers to explore how different propulsion systems perform in different scenarios, from taxiing, through take-off and cruising to descent and landing.
When the aircraft design is complete, the final design can be produced with Intelligent Manufacturing. Industry 4.0 systems and technologies can be enhanced through digital technology. CFMS has worked on several projects, and used its own data centre to generate actionable data that helps to achieve more efficient manufacturing.
By using multiple aspects of digital engineering, such as digital twin and intelligent manufacturing, innovative organisations can accelerate development cycles and so bring sustainable aerospace to the skies more quickly.
CFMS CTO Ian Risk recently spoke about the benefits of these approaches in a short podcast at ADS Advance. To listen, click here.
If you would like to know more about how CFMS is accelerating the development of decarbonised flight, contact us here.