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‘VIVACE’ forum presents final project results

The EU-funded VIVACE project, developing advanced engineering and business capabilities in the aerospace industry, held its third and final public Forum on 17-19 October 2007 in Toulouse.

Airplane on tarmac © Peter Gutierrez
Supporting innovative air transport.
© Peter Gutierrez

VIVACE is an integrated R&D project, launched in January 2004 and co-ordinated by Airbus. With an overall budget of €74 million, its goal has been to develop advanced capabilities for real engineering and business scenarios in the aircraft and aero-engine sectors. The project gathered an impressive 63 companies and institutions, including eight small and medium-sized enterprises.

The Forum drew over 200 delegates from Europe and beyond. Presentations and demonstrations closely targeted the needs of the European aeronautical industry.

"Designing an aircraft today is all about customer needs,” said keynote speaker Alain Ramier, Airbus’ Senior Vice President for Engineering Development Processes and Methods. “This makes design more complex, which is where simulation comes in as an essential tool for integrated, multi-disciplinary design." Ramier talked about the increased need for collaboration in distributed teams, to work more interactively with partners, and to share knowledge more effectively across ‘virtual enterprises’.

Liam Breslin Head of the European Commission’s DG RTD Aeronautics Unit, talked about the crucial challenges now facing the sector, including, CO 2 emissions and global warming, rising oil prices, outdated technologies and processes for air traffic management, saturated airports and a deteriorating passenger experience, more intrusive security procedures, and the need to reduce costs and lead-times. For Breslin, VIVACE is a key EU initiative for addressing these and other issues. "The quality of projects such as VIVACE fully justifies the level of EU funding aeronautics research receives,” he said.

Another keynote speaker, Ric Parker, Director of Research and Technology at Rolls-Royce, said, “Complexity is increasing, as is globalisation. VIVACE has shown us how we can deal with that complexity and the interdependence of partners scattered across the globe. VIVACE has painted an important vision for collaboration across continents, not only on technical collaboration, but also on business management."

Forum participants
The VIVACE Forum

Working more effectively with risk and revenue sharing partners, replacing tests by simulation, and reducing programme risk by preliminary design methods were key aspects of Parker's talk. "Connectivity is crucial to aeronautics product development today,” he said, “and, with VIVACE, partners and competitors can work together to deliver vital new technologies, as if they were a single entity."

VIVACE key results include new tools and systems for:

  • Knowledge-enabled engineering
  • Multidisciplinary design and optimisation
  • Design to decision objectives
  • Engineering data management
  • Distributed information systems infrastructure for large Enterprise
  • Collaboration Hub for Heterogeneous Enterprises.

The VIVACE forum

The third and last VIVACE forum spanned many areas and included the presentation of key demonstrators and selected ‘use cases’, i.e. real industrial simulations of parts of aircraft or engine development processes.

Also included in the programme were several technical achievements sessions and parallel sessions devoted to providing more detail and training in some of the tools and methods developed by the project. Themes included system and component simulation, whole engine development, and supply chain manufacturing workflow simulation.

Job well done

José Martin-Hernandez
José Martin-Hernandez

Speaking on the final day, EC Project Officer José Martin-Hernandez stressed the importance to the Commission of putting lessons learned into practice. “One of the main aims of this final VIVACE forum,” he said, “was to get the top people, your bosses in the partner companies, to come together, to hear the results and to commit themselves to the next step, which is implementation. To that extent, as we saw at the opening session, this event has been a success.”

Both EC organisers and VIVACE partners say they see room for further research and potential follow-up projects are now in the works, but the major steps achieved under the project can already be used to improve the way the European aerospace industry works.

“The bottom line,’ said Martin-Hernandez, “and the reason the Union continues to support this kind of work is that it will ultimately make a real difference in the competitiveness of our industry, and that means better cost control and better products for our citizens, and more competitive products for foreign markets.”