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PLATO-N — Result In Brief

Project ID: 30717
Funded under: FP6-AEROSPACE
Country: Denmark

Cost-effective and sustainable airframe design

The European aircraft industry is dedicated to developing safe and light weight structures that lead to significant cost and environmental benefits in fuel consumption alone, not to mention numerous other advantages. EU-funded researchers developed software design tools specific to the aircraft industry enabling optimisation of materials arrangements from the earliest design phase and promising to reinforce the competitiveness of the European aeronautics industry.
Cost-effective and sustainable airframe design
Current weight reduction programmes related to aircraft components typically involve localised and manual modifications to designs well into the design phase and related to either introduction of expensive lightweight materials or adjustments to the manufacturing process.

Although commercial design tools exist, they are not specific to the aircraft industry and thus do not allow investigation of the full potential of composite materials for the case of airframe design. European researchers filled this gap with the outcomes of the EU-funded project ‘A platform for topology optimisation incorporating novel, large-scale, free material optimisation and mixed integer programming methods’ (PLATO-N).

The researchers integrated innovative and fast topology optimisation algorithms specific to aerospace structural design together with finite element analysis to facilitate the standard use of optimisation assistance by the European aerospace industry in the conceptual design process.

Use of the PLATO-N software system should enable shorter and more efficient design cycles, reducing manufacturer costs and enhancing competitiveness. In addition, the final high performance lighter weight aircraft have the potential to decrease airline operating costs as well as minimise environmental impact due to decreased emissions as a result of lower fuel requirements per flight.

In summary, the PLATO-N project made a significant enhancement to the design tools available to the European aircraft manufacturing industry. Widespread use of the PLATO-N system has the potential to benefit industry, consumers and the environment.

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