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More Affordable Aircraft through eXtended, Intergrated and Mature nUmerical Sizing

Tags: Air


State of the Art - Background

Composite solutions can deliver lighter structures with less maintenance. They provide greater stiffness and strength to density ratios than metallic ones, allow the designing of more integrated structures with fewer fasteners, are less prone to progressive damage under in-service fatigue loads with current design rules and are also less sensitive to corrosion.

Composites represent 26% of the Airbus A380 structural weight and up to 50% is anticipated for the Boeing 787 and the Airbus A350 XWB. Nevertheless, increasing the percentage of composites in the airframe structure is not sufficient to achieve lighter and more cost efficient airframes: composite areas can be further optimised in terms of cost and performance, and various knock-on effects of a 'more composite' aircraft should also be considered:

- the substitution of the assembly of many small composite parts by a large part provides additional weight reduction;

- the final assembly line process must be adapted to composite properties (lack of ductility, stiffness);

- if the appropriate level of confidence and cycle time was available, simulation-based design would provide a faster and less expensive path to find the optimal structure than the current development process which relies on physical tests;

- more conductive composites are necessary to avoid additional weight for system protection.


The aim is to demonstrate the fast development and 'right first time' validation of a highly optimised composite airframe. This will be achieved through coordinated developments on:

- a physical platform, to develop and validate the appropriate composite technologies for low-weight aircraft;

- a virtual structure development platform, to identify the best solutions faster and validate them earlier.

The objectives regarding the highly optimised composite airframe are to:

- enable a high production rate: 50% reduction of the assembly time of the fuselage section;

- reduce the manufacturing and assembly recurring costs by 10% (compared to the ALCAS FP6 project equivalent reference) as a result of more integrated structures;

- reduce the structural weight by 10%, compared to the best available solutions on similar fuselage sections (F7X, A320 and TANGO FP6 Project fuselage).

Regarding faster development, the aim is to:

- reduce the current development timeframe of aircraft composite structures from preliminary design up to full-scale test by 20% (ALCAS reference), and by 10% of the corresponding non-recurring cost.

Regarding the 'right first time' structure, the aims are to:

- additionally reduce the airframe development costs by 5% compared with the equivalent development steps in an industrial context;

- avoid late and costly changes due to unexpected test results.

Description of Work

Based on a set of airframe requirements, MAAXIMUS will design, analyse, manufacture, assemble, control and test a full-scale barrel, made of two fuselage sections. This breakdown by skill discipline is a direct correspondence with the current industrial approach for airframe development.

However, to achieve the different project objectives, the two-section barrel development cannot be launched from scratch. Many improvements need to be achieved first and can be categorised in the following themes:

- Advances in composite technology;

- Virtual aircraft engineering and manufacturing;

- Generic numerical technologies for optimisation and analysis;

- IT framework development, for a successful multi-skill integration of new methods into a coherent working environment.

Advances in composite technology will be demonstrated by the design, sizing, manufacturing, control and testing up to failure of the full-scale composite barrel, demonstrating the expected accuracy and confidence of the virtual platform.

The overall MAAXIMUS strategy is to address simultaneously the two dimensions of the development:

- 'airframe development' skill view: Sub-project view. The different sub-projects will contain all the project work packages

- 'capability development' view: 'Hub view'. This will give a transverse vision on the project and create the connection between the sub-projects.

Expected Results

The main results of the project will be:

- a set of physical tests at coupon, structural detail and panel level;

- a generic composite barrel section manufactured and tested under quasi-static load;

- a set of advanced optimisation and analysis methods integrated in a demonstrator framework.

Virtual testing will be a major asset to freeze a trouble-free design earlier than can be done today. More mature aircraft will be provided for entry into service, with fewer Service Bulletins or post-entry into service modifications. This will be a key asset for airliner satisfaction.

Development and validation of new standards in high fi delity modeling, optimisation, analysis and certifi cation of composite aircraft structure.
Development and validation of new standards in high fi delity modeling, optimisation, analysis and certifi cation of composite aircraft structure.