Skip to main content

AGILE 4.0: Towards cyber-physical collaborative aircraft development

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - AGILE 4.0 (AGILE 4.0: Towards cyber-physical collaborative aircraft development)

Reporting period: 2019-09-01 to 2021-02-28

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.

Three major factors are hampering the cost and time effective developments of novel aeronautical products:
1) The complexity of these systems is increasing due to higher functionality demands.
2) Outsourcing trend and the globalization nature of the aeronautical industry, which needs to connect all the people, skills and technologies involved in its collaborative, multi-national and cross organizational processes, and the seamless operations across the diverse disciplines, throughout the entire life-cycle of the product.
3) The emerging of novel technologies which need to be quickly integrated, assessed and validated in a full holistic view in order to meet the challenges towards a carbon-neutral aviation.

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 ambition is to provide the aircraft industry with a way to model, assess, and optimize complex systems addressing the entire life cycle. The technologies developed will enable stake-holders and actors of the aeronautical supply chain to perform trade-offs which have never been possible to be performed before.

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.
AGILE 4.0 targets the digital transformation of main pillars of the aeronautical supply-chain: design, production, certification and manufacturing.
Therefore, there is the need on one hand of a novel design paradigm to enable a fast and efficient integration of multidisciplinary models. On the other hand, it requires human-centric methods that support the analysis of large data-driven scenarios and the decision-making processes. AGILE4.0 builds upon the (Multidisciplinary Design Optimization) MDO technologies developed in the AGILE project, but focuses on the development of a (Model Based System Engineering) MBSE Framework enabling the modelling of each of these pillars, and connecting the virtual representation of products and processes, through the entire development cycle.

7 industry-driven application cases are investigated and directly setup to validate the AGILE4.0 technologies towards the project’s objectives.
The following main fundamental concepts have been developed:

- AGILE4.0 Framework: This represents the overall approach formulated for the streamlined development of novel and complex aeronautical systems. The framework aims to provide the capabilities to efficiently generate, evaluate, perform trade-off, and optimize, complex aeronautical systems accounting for large number of architectural and design choices through all the life-cycle. The concept is based on the implementation of novel design methods and approaches, leveraging digital design engineering methods, such as MBSE and MDO. The overall approach is specified and formulated.

- AGILE4.0 MBSE Development System: This comprises an extensive set of IT platforms, models, design and optimization methods, and simulation capabilities, which are needed to enable the deployment of the AGILE4.0 Framework. In RP1 the MBSE System is operational, and concurrently accessible by all the consortium. The MBSE System supports the complete model-based specification of complex aeronautical systems, the automatic generation and execution of cross-organizational design and optimization processes. All the application cases are making use of the MBSE System.

- / aeronautical application cases: These consist in the development of complex aeronautical systems (aircraft configurations) and the resolution of multiple trade-off. The applications address technologies ready for Entry Into Service in the years 2025-2040. Each application case is driven by an owner (industrial partners of the consortium). Each aircraft to be developed has been specified in terms of stakeholders, needs, requirements by deploying MBSE approaches. For every application case a corresponding reference cross-organizational and multidisciplinary design and optimization processes has been setup and executed, and the obtained results validated with industrial partners.
AGILE4.0 developed technologies will enable:
1) the design and optimization of aeronautical products accounting for requirements and constraints stemming from the entire life-cycle, such as production, certification, and maintenance phases, and therefore increasing the competitive of the aeronautical industry;
2) the acceleration of development and assessment of complex aeronautical products which require the integration of novel technologies towards decarbonization, such as electrification initiatives.

Therefore, AGILE4.0 is results are directly contributing to the following expected impacts given in the EC work program.
1) “Advanced multidisciplinary and collaborative capabilities for whole aircraft along its life cycle.” AGILE 4.0 Framework is currently deployed for all application cases and trade-off include virtual design, manufacturing, and certification constraints of the airframe and its main novel components.

2) “Significantly reduced aircraft design cycle and higher complexity decision trade-offs.” AGILE4.0 applications account for requirements, constraints, processes, and models from stakeholders involved in multiple domains (including manufacturing and certification). All the aircraft development applications are demonstrating qualitative reductions in design cycles. A set of metrics is in place to quantify the development speed. Targets are 50% reduction in iterations between design and manufacturing and 30% reduction in overall process development time including certification.

3) “Development of synergies on visualization methods and big-data analytics.” AGILE4.0 is developing and deploying novel visualization and data analysis techniques enabling to share human understanding of systems and their behavior in a virtual environment, spanning the full life cycle. The data generated by AGILE4.0 include the definition of ontology models, supported by interactive collaborative visualization representations.

4) “Increase the European innovation potential in Aeronautics and Air Transport by a more balanced and integrated collaboration of industry, including SMEs and research providers” AGILE4.0 is developing solutions enabling the integration of technologies for collaborative design, manufacturing and certification throughout the entire aeronautical supply chain that includes OEM, SMEs, research centers and academia. All AGILE4.0 aircraft development applications which are currently implemented are cross-organizational, and integrate competences from all the types of partners in the consortium.
AGILE4.0 is enabling the integration of novel technologies for multiple aircraft configurations.