The Advisory Council for Aeronautics Research in Europe (ACARE) is the European Technology Platform for Aeronautics and Air Transport (AAT) that provides guidance for the future of European aeronautics research.
ACARE's previous roadmap, the Strategic Research Agenda, inspired the EC work programme elaboration on Aeronautics and Aviation. In 2011, the European Commission published FlightPath2050, Europe's Vision for Aviation, a Report of the High-Level Group on Aviation Research (regarding the AAT challenges) and a new Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda was released in September 2012.
Over the five calls launched since 2007, numerous projects were funded by the EC on the cost-efficiency topic, accordingly with objectives targeted in ACARE SRA1&2. CAPPADOCIA responds to the 6th call, and especially the 2nd topic, cost-efficiency which scope analysis has been defined through the three following domains:
- Design Systems and Tools
CAPPADOCIA's main objectives have been set so as to comply with the expectations of the European Commission: to contribute to a better coordination of research and innovation in the field of Aeronautics and Air Transport.
Namely, CAPPADOCIA aims at assessing on the one hand past, on-going and future EC-funded projects focused on cost efficiency, and on the other hand, at identifying gaps and bottlenecks within the targeted research landscape, accordingly with the objectives set up in the call addressed. Both activities will lead to the edition of yearly strategic recommendation reports aiming to cover research gaps, overcome bottlenecks towards innovation, and justify effort with an impact assessment on policy, industrial market and social needs. These coherent strategic recommendation reports shall be easily used by research policy makers as well as the preparation of future EC work programme.
- Collaborative supply-chain: The latest evolution of the decision-making power within the European aviation supply chain from upstream to downstream industrial actors is challenging their respective individual and collective competitiveness. Airframers’ business is based on several industries fed by many and multisector tier one suppliers. These numerous subcontractors often generate technological innovations especially within the aircraft design step. Although recognised as leading innovators, subcontractors are most often dominated by their main client which most likely imposes severe conditions of purchase. Their weak diversification associated to a strong domestic market dependence presents a real risk for these subcontractors’ sustainability and directly for the whole European aviation supply chain. Thanks to their strategic position, airframers remained for long in a dominant position especially compared to airlines. Nevertheless, the entry of new competitors from China and India is challenging this long-time established situation. This should impact the overall worldwide aviation competition and impact European Airframers, including their subcontractors.
- Factory of the Future: The factory of the future overall concept will strongly impact the aeronautic value-chain in the next decades. As such it already demonstrated to be a great opportunity to fulfil this change of paradigm within the downstream value chain actors and activities (like being able to quickly meet clients’ needs, propose new services etc.). Industry 4.0 will affect the entire aviation supply chain and product life cycle, from product design and development, to the operations management and logistics.
- Emerging innovation trends: As encouraged by the SRIA, there must be a stronger collaborative approach to innovation, pooling the know-how of multiple stakeholders, including educational establishments, to accelerate the innovation process and provide the best possible response to customers’ needs.” To identify pragmatically the issues encountered several interviews and workshop have been carried out to complete a previously achieved updated state of the art.
Based on the goals of the Advisory Council for Aeronautics Research in Europe and considering projects that address cost efficiency, CAPPADOCIA will assess a number of ongoing or completed EU and non-EUfunded projects and contribute to answering the following main questions:
- What are the most commonly used cost-reduction practices in aviation for design system and tools, production and avionics?
- What are the main limitations (innovation, regulation, financing, etc.) to the implementation of solutions that have a significant impact on the achievements of cost-efficiency objectives set by research policy-makers?
- Which actions should be launched or strengthened to overcome these obstacles and speed up the development, maturation and uptake of new solutions?
To answer those questions, CAPPADOCIA will focus on the research activities that mainly address the ACARE goal related to cost efficiency in aeronautics and air transport, particularly in the following technical domains: design systems and tools, production and avionics, which are the main areas that influence costs and thereby cost efficiency in the field of aeronautics. The work is organised around two technical work packages.
The first one is aimed at analysing the state of the art in the research landscape to improve cost efficiency in aeronautics:
- Review state of the art of research and innovation (capacity, main performers)
- Identification of gaps in the research landscape
- Identification of bottlenecks to innovation (regulation, financing)
- Formulate strategic recommendations to address the gaps and bottlenecks to innovation
The second one will analyse EU and non-EU initiatives to improve cost efficiency in aeronautics:
- Assess the impact of EC-funded projects towards ACARE goals and solutions achievements
- Analyse the collected data on projects and provide an impact assessment of each one toward ACARE goals
- Formulate strategic recommendations to progress towards ACARE goals and solutions
Based on their respective results, WP2 and WP3 will formulate individual strategic recommendation reports aimed towards policy-makers for possible improvements to cost efficiency and competitiveness in aeronautics and air transport. These annual reports will be analysed, reviewed and compiled into a yearly strategic recommendations report.
Aeronautical suppliers’ and OEM innovative collaboration opportunities in the early design phases
The airframers have always performed an important and central role in the supply chain organization. Their activities covered as such the whole aircraft life cycle from conceptual design up to maintenance and withdrawal from service (“From cradle to grave”). At the origin of the modern aviation their efforts were mostly devoted, to create new aircraft to fly faster and to carry more passengers on board. The main objective was to assure a constant business expansion of the flight network for the operators and the manufacturer itself. The birth of the European community opened a new era to the pan European collaboration, without boundary restrictions, in several society sectors and, for the aviation, which became one of the most favoured and safe transport system.
Its future growth will then require a full and in-depth revision of the European air transport main capacities to benefit from the new perceived constraints (e.g. environmental and energy) and market opportunities related to unmanned and personal transport.
Aeronautical collaborative supply chain organisational and industrial evolution towards “Airframers” centric approach:
Current vision & challenges towards competitiveness increase: Revolutionary changes in aircraft design have been accompanied by evolutionary developments and these have together resulted in highly efficient and safe aircraft. This combination remains needed to address new societal and market needs. This requires innovative design and manufacturing approaches to cope with new technologies for aircraft. Among those, one can note: novel hybrid-electric propulsion concepts and their integration in aircraft, multifunctional materials and structures for weight-saving, reduced manufacturing cost and increased production rate, and innovative aerodynamics including laminar flow and aero-elasticity control for improved aircraft performance for low- and high-speed phases.
Still, design for end-to-end performance improvement (for example for low total cost of ownership and safety) must be achieved through multidisciplinary approaches such as multi-criteria optimisation and digital model-based engineering.
Current main challenges to overcome are the following:
- Accelerate the design and development phases by rigorous integration of design and testing tools with reference to the increasing rate of the modern fleet’s replacement.
- Envelopes for certification of aeronautical products and qualification of manufacturing processes that are demonstrated by accurate virtual methods to enable cost-efficient improvement of products based on operational experience.
- Provide friendly product customization with quite simple management and low impact on the production rate and its "ramp-up".
- Guarantee easy access to financial resources for the suppliers and the other weaker supply-chain actors (e.g. SME).
- Assure adherence of the SME to the OEMs new digital and Industry 4.0 paradigms overcoming the difficulties for 2nd and 3rd tier suppliers to access information.
- Improve collaboration among supply-chain stakeholders especially with the co-development of products using common digital platforms based on standardized exchanges and practices.
- Share the best manufacturing practices through the supply-chain elements and through access to state of the art tools within clear and shared agreements and public IP regulations.
- Enabling standardization through all systems with the involvement of all supply chain stakeholders. This is the most practical way to minimize the current waste of time and get a better travel quality.
- Include in its aeronautical products the subsystem/components that have demonstrated great performances in other sectors and consequently have been appreciated by the market (e.g. “Open Innovation” philosophy).
- Implement fast, effective and robust design/development methodologies that are able to follow the current impressive market dynamics (obsolescence time) which could be terrible in the next decades.
- Support the concurrence of harmonized and well-coordinated activities, to create a clear and comfortable prospect for any industrial or commercial initiative by means of disciplinary specialists having pertinent skills.
Innovation processes aiming at supporting the aeronautical collaborative supply chain organisational and industrial competitiveness increase: Even though the global aviation market is increasing in size, Europe must preserve its preeminent position to ensure the continued success and economic contribution of its aviation industry by investing continuously and heavily in key enabling innovation, research and technology supported by adequate public policy and public framework.
Product development efficiency is one of the key business challenge each company must achieve to be successful in selling competitive products and services to its customers with an appropriate profit margin. To be successful, the next generation aircraft, at last the non-derivative ones, will be based on innovative architecture concepts. To support this, a disruptive development and production process must be put in place – one that would consider a global System of Interest comprising the aircraft performances, its associated manufacturing, its exploitation, and its maintenance. The new performance designed products should address out of cycle activities, End-2-End integration of architecture, Co design Engineering / manufacturing since early phases, etc. It requires End-2-End holistic digital continuity (the capacity to access seamlessly data coming from different product line manager and solution line manager belonging to partners associated with the performance designed product). The key drivers for this disruptive process are well known:
- Achieve shorter time to market - a decrease of at least 50% in development and lead time,
- Recover PLM margins to innovate, technically and financially,
- Minimize problems associated with insufficient maturity of the development process (overspending, rework, delays, lack of product maturity at EIS, supply chain issues, issues affecting production ramp up, etc.),
- Improve the overall efficiency of the collaborative supply chain during the design phase,
- Allow more flexibility for late customization, including the capability to cope with unforeseen customer demand while guarantying adequate level of performance.
One way to achieve this would be to target a seamless end-to-end integrated co-design of the product and the industrial system, including operability; fully based on a product line model-based systems engineering methodology applied from the feasibility phase to full rate production and operation.
The implementation of such development plan is subject to the availability of the following key enablers:
- Product line platforms and modular architectures shared with the key design partners,
- Integrated product-and-manufacturing model based methodology and associated capabilities and skills,
- Out of cycle architectures, validated smart components (models) (incl. prototype needs),
- Fast prototyping capabilities,
- Capabilities for fast re-integration of design changes into the product,
- Engagement model and Business model for early adopters’ airlines,
- Engagement model for the supply chain,
- Airworthiness authorities’ acceptance of new means of compliance,
- Agile ways of working at scale.
Several H2020 funded research projects addressed these issues and already provided significant progresses. As for the digitalization aspects associated with the Model-Based System Engineering approach, there is still a general lack of manufacturing and business models adapted to a real Product Line Model-Based Systems Engineering.
The following associated recommendations have been identified:
- Adopt a common general approach in any field of the organization’s framework: nomination of key roles, accounting supervision, internal controls, quality assurance, risk management and auditing process.
Focus on objective evidence and adopt the most suitable approach to answer the relevant questions and formalize the identified issues.
- Adopt a multi-disciplinary approach to estimate the process performances using statistical tools to overcome the difficulties experienced in case of partiality of the public data.
- Adopt computational platforms able to collect and to analyse the air transport trend at world and regional level and the aviation evolution to support the management decisions of the stakeholders, as soon as possible, by effective forecast methodologies.
- Increase competitiveness in product industrialisation: Industrialisation encompasses access to a full set of production data and capabilities of different production sites to simulate the best industrial choice proactively, starting at the early design and conception phases.
- Develop high-value manufacturing technologies: High-value manufacturing technologies represent an embedded digital thread within the integrated supply chain, facilitating a data-driven material conversion and manufacturing process. The technology is developed, validated and certified in a virtual workspace, enabling real-time changes in the physical manufacturing process.
- Secure continued and focused investment: Further innovative research, supported by continuous investment, is enabling aviation to meet the EU challenges in an ever-changing, competitive and circular economy.
New factory of the future opportunities aiming at supporting the aeronautical supply chain organisational and industrial competitiveness:
The White Paper “Technology and Innovation for the Future of Production: Accelerating Value Creation” from the World Economic Forum lists five key technologies that stand out by their broad applications and impact in countries, industries and value chain steps alike. These five technologies are the following:
- Internet of things (IoT), including Digital Twin technology,
- Artificial intelligence (AI),
- Advanced robotics,
- Wearables and 3D printing (additive manufacturing),
- Big Data technologies.
Combined and connected, these driving technologies are opening up new opportunities and prospective changes of decades-old mechanisms enabling then to create and distribute new value in the hyper-efficient and agile digitally-enabled factory of the future. Comprising three common global characteristics: connected, automated and flexible digital shop floor processes; new relationships between operators and machines; and the structure, location and scale of the factory.
The aeronautical community must follow the pace of Industry 4.0 to remain competitive. It requires to work in close partnership with policy-makers, business, academia and societal organizations. The following associated main enablers and recommendations have been identified:
- SRIA 2 Update: SRIA Vol 2 describes clusters of enablers and the related capabilities along with the R&I needs per challenge, to support the aeronautical sector supply chain in the dynamic global market. This updated strategic document emphasizes, among many others, the interaction of R&I Lifecycle with the efficient development and manufacturing processes to enhance the competitiveness in the OEMs supply chain, stressing the OEMs ambitious requirements setting to promote technologies development in competition among the different Tiers, for the 2020-time horizon. To both safeguard European autonomy and maintain a competitive and cost-efficient Aeronautics supply chain in Europe, it is recommended to assess the progress by adapting the Key Performance Indicator: no external barriers to exporting EU products .
- New materials: New advanced materials used extensively (encompassing various branches of both nanotechnology and biotechnology) are critical to achieve the hyper efficient and flexible factory of the future, which is a more digital, virtual and resource-efficient space. Through this connected environment, the evaluation of materials and manufacturing has to start at the conceptual design stage. The outcome will also have to consider the top-level aircraft and industrial requirements to best fit technology requirements with economic cost and rate objectives.
- New processes: The advanced Drivers of the Future of Manufacturing are currently exerting profound changes leading to new design and maintenance strategies as a whole; accompanied with novel processes and simulation evolvement. The shift to customization-oriented production focus on agility and responsiveness and the design process now integrates more industrial inputs via people collaborating (e.g. Industrial Architects). Iterative early loops between industrial and design related activities ensure cost and lead-time assessment. To function properly, this must be based on an End-to-End (E2E) data chain from design to shop floor, and a standard set of data & documents (AIPI) digitalized and seamlessly exchanged and shared. The associated tools and standards are already available, and the new supply chain associated with future projects build around them. Associated with this new design process, the role of simulation emerges. Its scope is being extended horizontally (E2E) and prepared for vertical expansion. Critical steps are mastered by simulation for line improvement and disturbance prevention. Furthermore, the new maintenance strategies where 3D printing allows rapid production of crucial replacement parts, open up a vast potential to create new product designs and functional capabilities.
- Artificial Intelligence (AI): AI-enabled and real-time analytics with its own engine for decision-making is another feature of the factory of the future. The most promising immediate opportunities for applying AI in production systems are in quality management, predictive maintenance and supply chain optimization. AI technologies will create and change the value proposition across all domains. AI combined with IoT and analytics will improve asset efficiency, decrease downtime and unplanned maintenance, and allow manufacturers to uncover new sources of value in services. By employing digital twins, simulations and virtual reality, designers and operators will be able to harness interactive media to optimize design virtually, production processes and material flows. Altogether, advances in technologies will reduce energy consumption by 20–30%, while lead times can be cut by 20–50% by integrating IoT and analytics in operations.
- Big data: The emergence of Big Data technology and analytics is also bringing new reflexes and monitoring perspectives as captured data transforms into useful information building a knowledge-base and feeding design activities. Data (and exploitation data coming from customers) becomes one of the key assets of each company that is part of the design chain. This emerging cross-sectorial key enabler supported by cybersecurity measures must be managed correctly as critical information must be customised, classified and readily available for the elaboration of production and product-support scenarios. To this end, OEMs must establish priorities to ensure they build products that provide a range of performance features to meet customer requirements considering effective standardisation as an important enabler in support of a modular approach. Therefore, improved collaboration with suppliers will be achieved by sharing physical and digital resources and research is needed in the short- and mid-terms to simulate the value chain with data that include human, machine and industrial processes.
- Reorganisation of Supply Chains: The aeronautical sector is witnessing the supply chain integration into a global holistic IT landscape between different stages of production and the respective resource and information flow within a factory and across companies along the value chain. Countries with an advantageous geographic location and a strong, developed logistical sector can benefit from technology employed through established logistics services hubs to integrate local supply chains into global value chains.
It is worth noting that the aeronautical supply chain can be used as tool of competitiveness by providing a platform for an expanded competitive proposition within the manufacturing value chain. By regionalizing global production systems, innovations, such as 3D printing, could evolve as descaling devices, since they would have an immense impact on the integration into global value chains. Maintenance hubs located near secondary airports can evolve to handle the production of replacement parts that can be manufactured through 3D printing techniques.