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There’s No Room for Error in Aerospace: Bird Strikes, Water Landings and Airplane Systems

The aerospace industry demands accuracy. An engineer’s slightest error could crash probes into Mars or cause planes to vanish without a trace.

These three articles — on bird strikes, water landing and airplane systems complexity — prove that the best method to prevent disasters while staying on budget, meeting industry standards and remaining on schedule is simulation.

Ensuring Aerospace Designs Survive Bird Strikes Can Save Lives

Don’t underestimate the destructive capabilities of birds.

Back in 2014, a flock of geese took down a HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter. This U.S. Air Force training mission took the lives of the crew and destroyed a $40 million machine. Since 1990, 11 people have died and 61 have been injured from bird strikes to aircraft.

Simplified simulation of a bird strike.

The best way to accurately prevent these disasters and gain certification is with simulation. Unfortunately, simulating bird strikes on composite materials isn’t straightforward.

Therefore, many organizations have decided to and test these impacts physically. The problem is that these physical tests are expensive and time-consuming. Even if you can afford it, there is no guarantee that you can test every impact permutation you need to ensure safety.

Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) use ANSYS Composite PrepPost and ANSYS Autodyn to simulate how bird strikes can affect their designs.

To learn how they do it, read “To the Test” in ANSYS Advantage — Best of Aerospace and Defense 2018.

Multiphysics Simulations Prevent Drones from Tumbling During Water Landings

Have you ever skipped a rock on a lake? It’s a cool trick at the cottage but for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) — aka drones — skipping across the water in a failed landing attempt could cost millions of dollars.

Simulation is used to ensure UAVs landing in the water don’t tumble.

UAVs are being designed to go everywhere. This includes flying over bodies of water to drop off payloads or spy on remote locations. An emergency situation may result in an unplanned water landing.

Depending on the weight, speed, path and shape of the UAV, this action could cause the drone to tumble.

Physical tests help engineers avoid this tumble, but they cost time and money.

Alternatively, simulation can quickly and accurately test the UAV’s water landing in a digital space on a lower budget. But these simulations aren’t easy as they deal with multiphysics and multiphase flows.

Singapore Technologies Aerospace (ST Aerospace) was able to set up the simulation of various water-landing scenarios using ANSYS CFD software.

To learn their process, read “Calm Landing” in ANSYS Advantage — Best of Aerospace and Defense 2018.

Simulation Ensures Safety as Aircraft Increase in Complexity

A360 cockpit shows how complex aerospace equipment can get. Simulation and systems engineering software can help ensure everything works safely.

Aircraft are becoming more and more complex.

This increase in complexity helps pilots understand how the plane is interacting with the outside world, allowing for a smoother flight.

“We now measure more physical phenomena, such as icing, EMI/EMC, thermal environments, material behavior and fluid–structure interaction, with more precision, and that helps interacting systems to optimize the overall flight experience,” says Pascal Gendre, senior expert, modeling and simulation at Airbus.

However, this increase in complexity comes with drawbacks. Each new system brings new engineering and safety challenges that must be accurately addressed in accordance with aerospace standards.

“There are costs and lead time challenges associated with adhering to aerospace standards,” says Bruno Darboux, vice president, systems general engineering at Airbus. “Software modeling and simulation has reduced our software generation time from typically two months to as short as two days during flight tests. That is a great improvement and time-to-market advantage.”

To learn how Airbus has improved their time to market with simulation and systems engineering, read the interview “Mastering Complexity” in ANSYS Advantage — Best of Aerospace and Defense 2018.

Or check out 11 other ANSYS aerospace articles from ANSYS Advantage.