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Last Update: 2018-07-20   Source: Research Headlines
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Streamlining the aircraft development process

Designing modern passenger aircraft is a complex business requiring the collaboration of experts in a variety of disciplines. A team of EU-funded researchers has come together to simplify the aircraft development process to make it more efficient, greener and cost-effective.


© phaisarnwong2517 #182511457, source: 2018

From the drawing board to the runway, the latest passenger aircraft are developed through large-scale, collaborative multi-disciplinary design processes. The challenge is to integrate as efficiently as possible a range of competencies and services delivered by teams with different skill sets, working in different organisations and across different countries.

The EU-funded AGILE project brings together 19 industry, research and academic partners from nine countries to address the complex challenge of collaborative product development. The project team has set itself the ambitious performance target of a 40 % reduction in the time needed to set up and solve multi-disciplinary aircraft design problems.

Radical new aircraft concepts selected and designed through the use of AGILE methods and information technologies must also consider the issue of sustainability, with the aim of minimising the aviation industry’s impact on the environment.

“The competitive supply chain enabled by AGILE developments will help the aviation industry to rapidly introduce innovative products and reduce product development costs, leading to lower operational costs and a more affordable transport system for citizens,” explains project coordinator, Pier Davide Ciampa from the DLR Institute of System Architectures in Aeronautics in Hamburg, Germany.

“AGILE’s key outcomes will maintain competitiveness by contributing to the development of streamlined design processes and the creation of a network of technology clusters that will strengthen collaboration between industries, universities and research institutes,” he adds.

Novel approach

The project’s AGILE Paradigm concept aims to accelerate the collaborative design process. The methodology has already been implemented and proven to reduce the time and associated costs for designing a conventional aircraft. Currently, the project’s concept is being used to help design six novel aircraft that are expected to enter service between 2035 and 2050.

In addition, AGILE has created a database comprising information and digital models relating to the six novel aircraft configurations. This resource provides valuable information for future use to further research into new aircraft configurations. At the same time, the project’s Open AGILE development platform will allow a large number of organisations to access AGILE innovations, which should speed up the development of new technologies.

Meeting demand

“A range of exploitation activities have started, or are planned to start when the project’s outcomes are finalised,” says Ciampa. “The methodologies and technologies developed through AGILE are being exploited in several industrial environments, including some non-aviation related areas such as the energy sector.”

The project team has also launched the AGILE Academy, an initiative which disseminates the AGILE Paradigm to academic institutions. All technologies developed by AGILE are made available to research and educational bodies, providing scope for significant exploitation of project results. Today, AGILE’s outputs are already being used by more than 20 research centres, universities and industrial organisations outside of the project consortium.

AGILE’s value to the aviation industry has already been recognised by its peers. The project has been selected to receive the ‘International Council for Aeronautical Sciences (ICAS) Award for Innovation in Aeronautics 2018’.


Project details

  • Project acronym: AGILE
  • Participants: Germany (Coordinator), Italy, Canada, Switzerland, Russia, Netherlands, Belgium, France, Sweden
  • Project N°: 636202
  • Total costs: € 8 965 932
  • EU contribution: € 7 074 806
  • Duration: June 2015 to November 2018

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