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How environmental pressures affect aerospace design and manufacturing

Posted by Geoff Haines on 07-Jan-2016 18:00:00

Environmental Pressures in Aerospace ManufacturingDesigning and manufacturing aircraft is complicated enough as it is, but governmental calls for more environmentally friendly aircraft can make aircraft design even tougher.

For example, the UK government have included the aviation industry in their plans to reduce carbon emissions significantly by 2050. And with the cost of fuel as a percentage of operating costs for airlines significantly greater than it was a decade ago, aircraft manufacturers need to take steps to increase the fuel efficiency of aircraft and comply with governmental calls for more environmentally friendly aircraft.

Utilization of new technology

One of the steps taken to produce more environmentally friendly aircraft is the production of the PurePower PW1000G engine by Pratt & Whitney.

The PurePower PW1000G is the product of 20 years of R&D, culminating in the development of a new engine with Geared Turbofan technology, achieving environmental benefits in reduced fuel consumption, harmful emissions and noise pollution.

So how does it work? The new fan-drive gear system reduces the speed of fan rotation whilst ensuring the low pressure compressor and turbines continue to work at a fast speed. Together, this helps to reduce fuel consumption and engine noise.

Composite materials

The PurePower engine also makes use of lightweight materials, which contribute significantly to the reduction of fuel consumption and hence are more environmentally friendly. 

A popular method used to produce lightweight aircraft parts is the use of composite materials such as carbon fibre, fibre-glass and kevlar. For example, the A400M Atlas uses carbon fibre composites in its wing structure whilst the Boeing 787 uses composites in its wing and fuselage structures.

The benefits of composite materials also extend beyond their lightweight properties to their durability, thermal conductivity and resistance to corrosion from acidic liquids and moisture, compared to alternative metals.

CATIA Composites Design 3

To help aircraft designers and manufacturers develop more fuel efficient aircraft in the use of composite materials, Dassault Systèmes have developed a range of software solutions including Composites Design 3 (CPD).

Composites Design 3 delivers a powerful composites design solution within a 3D environment, covering the preliminary design phase through to the engineering and manufacturing detailed design phases. 

One of the advantages of CPD is the ability for producibility checking from the CAD model at the design stage. The benefit is that manufacturing problems such as wrinkles can be checked and eliminated early in the design process, preventing the production of poor quality parts. For more information on Composites Design 3, check out this link.

Ultimately, with greater emphasis on reducing carbon emissions, the aviation industry has responded with the production of more fuel efficient engines and the production of lightweight aircraft parts using composite materials. And with developments in software and technology to assist in the utilization of composite materials, the aviation industry seems to be on its way to meeting targets set in reducing carbon emissions.

For more information on CPD and similar software solutions, download the eBook ‘Aerospace supply chain: Real world strategies for surviving and handling growth’.

Download the Aerospace Supply Chain eBook

Topics: Aerospace