The virtual product

Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)



Outlook: The development, production and operation of aircraft and their impact on the atmosphere can be numerically simulated in great detail.

Requirements: Today, the development, testing and manufacturing of new aircraft involve extremely high timing and financial risks so that this may cause serious setbacks for manufacturers and suppliers. These risks as well as long service lives after entry into service are counter-productive for dynamic product improvement and rapid implementation of advanced technologies. Enhanced tools are needed to introduce new aviation technologies faster and to manage associated technological risks better. The key to this is consistent virtualisation. DLR considers itself as a pioneer in this transition.

Objective: The virtual product will become the focus of DLR’s scientific work. The concept of the virtual product generally designates highly accurate numerical and digital modelling of new aircraft with all their properties and components, for instance, aerodynamics, structures, systems and engines. Such a realistic virtual reproduction requires a description of the aircraft that is consistent across all disciplines. Its geometry, structure and future mission objectives need to be clearly defined in advance. Prior to (partial) production, it must be possible to simulate every phase of the product realisation - from the design and prediction of its capabilities and properties to construction and manufacturing. The ultimate objective is to analyse the entire product lifecycle virtually.

The aim of the guiding concept of the virtual product is the development and maturation of highly accurate, cost-effective computing methods. To achieve synergies from precise and fast methods, various levels of modelling are used, for example, to quickly investigate a sufficiently wide range of parameters at the beginning of the design phase. These quick and simple models need to be calibrated in an appropriate procedure to steer the design in the right direction at a very early stage.

On the other hand, these highly accurate methods which represent the final product need to undergo specific verification and validation processes to reproduce the properties of the virtual aircraft. The structure of the modelling methodology needs to be hierarchical. Depending on the required quality of the reproduction, either a statistical description will do or all system properties need to be reproduced in detail.

It is an essential aspect of the virtual product to include digitally generated data into the certification process of new aircraft. Virtual testing requires a carefully defined validation strategy to meet the verification requirements of the certification process. To develop new aircraft entirely on a computer, efficient simulation and evaluation processes for very large volumes of data are necessary. Corresponding flight simulators and the required infrastructure for high-performance computing must also be provided. This infrastructure facilitates decentralised and shared activities for virtual developments.

Last modified:
15/11/2017 11:32:24