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Aerospace Industry News

Airbus and Dassault Systèmes partner on digitisation and 3D design for next-generation aircraft

Airbus and Dassault Systèmes have signed a five-year Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to cooperate on the implementation of collaborative 3D design, engineering, manufacturing, simulation and intelligence applications. Under the MOA, Airbus will deploy Dassault Systèmes' 3DEXPERIENCE platform, which delivers digital continuity, from design to operations, in a single data model for a unified user experience, making digital design, manufacturing and services (DDMS) a company-wide reality for all Airbus divisions and product lines. DDMS is said to pave the way for breakthroughs in new product design, operational performance, support and maintenance, customer satisfaction and new business models, as it represents a move from sequential to parallel development processes. Instead of first focusing on product performance, Airbus will be able to co-design and develop the next generation of aircraft with the manufacturing facilities that will produce them, reducing costs and time to market.

CW Today, 8th February, 2019


Dassault and Airbus to collaborate on next-generation combat jet

France and Germany have awarded the first-ever contract - a Joint Concept Study (JCS) - to Dassault Aviation and Airbus for the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) program. The starting date for the two-year study is February 20, 2019. The aim of the JCS is to conceptualise the different FCAS capabilities and to pave the way for future design, industrialization, as well as an estimated full operational capability by 2040. The study will prepare and initiate demonstrator programs for launch at the Paris Air Show in June 2019. The planned next-generation weapons system will consist of a manned 'New Generation Fighter' (NGF) teaming with a set of new and upgraded weapons as well as a set of unmanned systems (Remote Carriers) linked by a Combat Cloud and its Ecosystem embedded in a System-of-Systems FCAS architecture.

CW Today, 8th February, 2019


New propeller technology developed for more efficient VTOL UAS

Blainjett Aviation has announced that it has developed a new propeller technology, called dynamic-variable-pitch, that will make both manned and unmanned vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft fly faster and more efficiently. In addition, the company also envisions new types of aircraft utilizing the propeller technology. These include a quadcopter with forward facing rotors, a thrust vectoring short takeoff and landing (STOL) airplane and a single rotor compound helicopter. Dynamic-variable-pitch is based on a flexible cam made of flex-steel and other unique components that mate to a propeller or rotor system. The cam vectors thrust and counters dissymmetry of lift. A benefit of thrust-vectoring is the ability to take-off and land without a runway. Blainjett Aviation's technology does this while avoiding some of the drawbacks of other systems. This cam can also counter dissymmetry of lift, stabilizing a helicopter in forward flight, increasing the velocity never exceed (VNE) speed. The thrust-vectoring function utilizes the flexible cam for control of the propellers to guide the airflow. This allows quadcopters to take off and land and fly forward without tilting the rotor system or the fuselage. The forward facing rotors can take advantage of variable pitch and the addition of wings to generate higher speeds, more efficiently. Blainjett Aviation believes this new dynamic-variable-pitch cam mated to a helicopter rotor system and swashplate can more effectively counter an aerodynamic limitation called dissymmetry of lift. This phenomenon is the main limiting factor in a helicopter's top speed. Data from Blainjett's proof of concept prototype showed a significant improvement of 75%, with a 125% improvement projected in future testing. Until now, variable pitch and cyclic pitch systems were the only available options for VTOL aircraft and helicopters. Blainjett hopes to attract interest from the growing UAV and manned VTOL markets where they believe companies could use this technology to differentiate themselves. Patents are either allowed or pending in the US and abroad.

UST Weekly eBrief, 12th February 2019.


Airbus set to modernise satellite manufacturing

Airbus Defence and Space has initiated a Eur25-million ($28.3-million) modernisation project at its headquarters site near Munich. Scheduled to launch this month, the investment will have two main objectives: building an Industry 4.0 factory to automate and digitalise the production of solar arrays for satellites; and expanding clean rooms to produce new optical satellite instruments. The first part of the project will expand the current solar-array production operation by 800 m2 to a total of 5,500 m2, adding a robotic assembly line to reduce production time and costs. Airbus noted the project will preserve 170 manufacturing jobs, Airbus noted. The second will expand the site's clean room by 250 m2 to a total of 1,700 m2 to integrate satellite-based optical instruments, an area in which Airbus has invested over Eur10 million at that location. The new clean room will be used to build the Methane Remote Sensing Lidar Mission (MERLIN) instrument, a Franco-German satellite project to measure methane concentration in the Earth's atmosphere, for climate research.

Quick Manufacturing News, 13th February 2019


Name of British built Mars rover revealed

The UK made ExoMars rover, due to roam the surface of the red planet in 2021, has been named after UK scientist and co-discoverer of the structure of DNA - Rosalind Franklin. The name was revealed by Science Minister Chris Skidmore and British European Space Agency Astronaut Tim Peake in the "Mars Yard" at Airbus Defence and Space UK in Stevenage, where the rover is being built. The UK Space Agency is the second largest European contributor to the ESA-Roscosmos ExoMars mission, having invested €287M in the mission and £14M on the instruments. This, in addition to successful negotiations with ESA, secured key mission contracts for the UK space sector. The main aims of ExoMars is to examine the geological environment on Mars and search for evidence of environments that may have once, and perhaps could still, support life. It will also assist in preparing for other robotic missions, including a Mars Sample Return mission, and possible future human exploration. Data from the mission will also provide invaluable input for broader studies of Martian geochemistry, environmental science and exobiology - the search for evidence of life on other planets. Includes a short biography of Franklin.


Asteroid hopper mines water for steam-powered space travel

US researchers have developed a prototype asteroid hopper spacecraft that transforms water into steam, theoretically allowing it to travel indefinitely. Known as WINE (World Is Not Enough), the microwave-sized vehicle could potentially be used to explore space for valuable minerals, launching between asteroids and other bodies with weak gravity. Its design was developed by Phil Metzger, a planetary research scientist from the University of Central Florida, with the prototype built by Honeybee Robotics of Pasadena, California. The project is part of NASA's Small Business Technology Transfer programme. 'WINE was designed to never run out of propellant so exploration will be less expensive', said Metzger. 'It also allows us to explore in a shorter amount of time, since we don't have to wait for years as a new spacecraft travels from Earth each time'. At the heart of WINE is an In Situ Resource Utilisation system that captures and extracts water which is stored in a steam thruster tank. To convert the water into a steam propellant, the asteroid hopper uses heat generated by its electronics system with additional power coming from solar charged batteries. For more distant exploration where minimal solar power is available, small radioisotopic decay units could be used to power the vehicle's mining.


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