Airbus embarks on digital future

| Aerospace Testing

A350-900 with A330-900neo

Airbus to deploy Product Lifecycle Management architecture to streamline design and manufacturing of its future aircraft.

Although Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) software isn’t new in complex manufacturing businesses, the focus on the digital transformation of industrial enterprises has placed more emphasis on the concept of data continuity from design through manufacturing and even into distribution and field service operations.

The two large PLM suppliers, Siemens and Dassault Systèmes have largely captured the aviation market and are supplying innovative modular elements that enable the aviation giants to execute their digital transformations.

Going digital

In an industry that’s heavily laden by regulatory requirements, there’s a tendency for the brakes to be applied to development cycle times due to the requirements of accreditation. In a world where test data exists in one silo and design data resides in another silo, the braking effect is strong and one of the benefits of the latest generation of PLM platforms is the removal of this effect through the availability of all relevant data throughout the manufacturing chain and the ability to use such data as actionable information for prototyping or design modification.

Using previous accreditation experience and applying test data to new prototypes and simulation studies has a dramatic effect on design lead times.

Airbus Collaboration

In a move to progress its digital transformation, Airbus has signed a 5-year agreement with PLM supplier Dassault Systèmes to cooperate on the implementation of collaborative 3D design, engineering, manufacturing, simulation and intelligence applications. This will enable Airbus to take a major step forward and lay the foundation for a new European industrial programme in aviation involving all of the partners in its supply chain.

Under the agreement, Airbus will deploy Dassault Systèmes’ PLM platform (3Dexperienc), which delivers digital continuity from design to operations in a single data model for a unified user experience, making digital design, manufacturing and services (DDMS) a company-wide continuous reality for all Airbus divisions and product lines.

Digital Design, Manufacturing & Services

DDMS paves the way for breakthroughs in new product design, operational performance, support and maintenance as it represents a move from sequential to parallel development processes. Instead of first focusing on product performance, Airbus will be able to co-design and develop the next generation of aircraft with the manufacturing facilities that will produce them, reducing costs and time to market.

According to Airbus’ Commercial Aircraft President, Guillaume Faury, the concept of DDMS isn’t just about about digitalisation or 3D experiences, it is more about rethinking the way aircraft are designed and operated as well as streamlining and speeding up processes.

“DDMS is a catalyst for change and with it we are building a new model for the European aerospace industry with state of the art technology. Our target is a robust production setup that offers a reduction in product development lead time,” says Faury.

Bernard Charlès, Vice Chairman and CEO of Dassault Systèmes believes that nothing exemplifies the intersection of technology, science and art more than aviation with its evolution so far being characterised by a blend of technical prowess, digital precision and inspiration.

“The Aerospace industry has a proven track record of fast transformation, faster than in most industries. It delivers high quality innovation and new services for operations in highly complex and regulated environments. The Dassault Systèmes PLM platform will accelerate the digital transformation of Airbus,” says Charlès.

Jonathan Newell
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