Towards cyber-physical collaborative aircraft development

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A major challenge in the transport sector is to make economic growth compatible with sustainability and environmental constraints, while remaining competitive and innovative. The development of aeronautical products is a complex multidisciplinary process with requirements and constraints on the air transport system as a whole, the aircraft, and all the individual components to be produced. A major challenge impeding an efficient and cost-effective design processes is the integration of the various levels of the aeronautical supply chain. Therefore, the aeronautical industry needs to connect all the people, skills and technologies involved in its collaborative, multi-national and cross organizational processes, by means of a digital representation of production systems, supply chains, and seamless operations across diverse disciplines, during the entire life-cycle of the product.

The high level objective of AGILE 4.0 is to bring significant reductions in aircraft development costs and time-to-market through the implementation of an integrated cyber-physical aeronautical supply chain, thereby increasing the competitiveness of the European aircraft industry, from integrators and high-tiers suppliers to SMEs, leading to innovative and more sustainable aircraft products.

AGILE 4.0 targets the digital transformation of main pillars of the aeronautical supply-chain: design, production and certification and maintenance. In this context, the ILR investigates the effects of the aircraft’s maintenance process on its design, performance and other parts of the supply chain. By developing a detailed modelling of the maintenance processes with respect to the on-board system architecture, trade-off studies with respect to a varying degree of system and propulsion electrification are made possible, which enables the consideration of innovative aircraft and system configurations. Furthermore, to enable an optimized just-in-time maintenance service during the operational phase of the aircraft, the ILR works on the definition of a digital twin.

The composition of the AGILE 4.0 consortium and capabilities available enable to address realistic development scenarios integrating multiple stakeholders and covering all the aspects of the development of complex aeronautical systems.