The coronavirus pandemic has created many different challenges for the aerospace industry, and CFMS was recently asked to help with a specific issue - how to safely convert passenger planes for transporting personal protective equipment (PPE).
Although this appears to be a relatively simple challenge, the maintenance and repair organisation (MRO) tasked with the conversion faced some specific challenges to design the changes and get the aircraft delivering PPE quickly. As well as the high-level challenges of the project, such as meeting project time and cost constraints, the project had to address all factors and operational requirements, so that all necessary safety and airworthiness certifications could be validated quickly.
For CFMS experts the project combined a novel set of problems. While individual cargo loading can be evaluated and certified with first principle hand calculations, the large variety of delicate payload to transport required several different configurations to be evaluated. When mixing containers of different shapes, weights and fragility a single solution may not be the answer for all possible loading scenarios. Therefore an automated tool was created to find the optimal installation hardware and setup case by case by the aircraft operator. The project demonstrated that each solution was both safe and airworthy with a high degree of confidence, so the installation could be certified very quickly, and begin transporting PPE.
With different digital engineering disciplines available within the CFMS team, coupled with advanced collaborative tools and methodologies as well as traditional first principles engineering methods, the development of a solution was completed in 2 weeks.
To be certified by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), the design needed to undergo rigorous structural analysis and meet requirements of the airframe specification. The analysis of the complete solution, including the strapping, fittings and other components did not require a lot of compute power, but the results needed to achieve certification quickly.
Overall the project took just three weeks, and completed on schedule for the converted Boeing 737 aircraft to begin operations as planned in July when it started shipping PPE to help fight the coronavirus.