Saturday, July 02, 2005

The new Falcon 7X

The Economist on the new plane from Dassault designed entirely on computer :
The makers of the 7X, however, say that its digital design process went beyond anything that has been done before. Every aspect of the aircraft was modelled in three dimensions, as you would expect, but everything from construction to refuelling and maintenance was also included in the simulation. A single database was used to define the aircraft's design, including all 40,000 of its parts and 200,000 fasteners. This database was shared between workers at the 30 or so firms which contributed different parts of the plane. Before a single piece of metal was cut, everyone involved, from hydraulics specialists to electrical engineers, could walk around the plane in virtual reality and iron out conflicts over what went where. The design extended to the robots that would create the tools to fit the parts of the plane together, and to the aeroplane's maintenance in later years. Can a mechanic actually reach a particular component to replace it, and is it physically possible to turn the spanner? Nothing was left to chance.
As a result, the first plane to be constructed was perfect: there was no physical prototype.
[Cross-posted on Zoo Station]