Aircraft and their components are under a constant pressure for innovation and higher efficiency. The more and more saturated market and tightening environmental standards force airlines to shorten aircraft renewal cycles, which are currently at about 40 years for commercial aircrafts and less for specific parts such as engines and on-board electronics. Shortening industrial development cycles thus is essential for the competitiveness of the aviation industry and their customers.
The INREOG project followed the objective to assess how computer-based methods and simulations can improve testing processes in the aircraft industry. Second, it aims at investigating how significant improvements in efficiency can be achieved by the combined application of experimental testing and simulation.
The assessment by the INREOG project started by going to the extreme: can contemporary fatigue testing of airplane parts be completely replaced by computer simulation models? For this step a complete aircraft with all relevant parts should be depicted in a single software application.
As it was assumed from the start that this will most likely not be possible, the second phase of the study looked at the question of how computer simulation can support the fatigue testing of aircraft modules. Options were developed and validated on the large scale structural test of the A400M MFT military transporter.
In the first step, it has been proved that it is not possible to simulate and depict a complex structure like an airplane in a reliable way. This result was not very surprising and was seen as an introduction into further explorations. In a second step applications for computer-based simulations were analyzed. For which parts can they help to achieve significant improvements in the efficiency of testing methods?
According to the current status, there is no alternative to large-scale tests for proving suitability (fatigue strength and damage tolerance) in the airplane industry. But computer-based methods and simulations can be used for help and as supplement.
The following results were achieved:
- Improved integration of subcontractors thanks to computer-based pre-construction simulation.
- Computer-based simulations of experiment structures improved the efficiency of testing.
- Pre-optimizing of several parameters.
Thanks to the first INREOG extension, a lot of innovative technologies regarding computer-based assistance methods were developed and validated. In addition, the second INREOG extension developed the concept of a mobile modular testing infrastructure, which can be optimized individually for large-scale testing.
The results of the project are documented in a final report (in German only), which is available for download at the Technical Information Library (TIB) of the Hannover University.