Aviation and Aerospace

Airbus: “Oops, We Did It Again”

By Aviation and Aerospace, IT Strategy, PLM No Comments

Airbus-Aras Strategic Partnership

When it comes to changing enterprise software vendors, the aerospace industry isn’t exactly known as a fast moving bunch. While aerospace companies push the envelope of the most advanced CAD and CAE tools available in the market, they tend to select and stick for the long haul with one of three PLM software vendors: Dassault Systèmes, PTC and Siemens PLM.

It was therefore a bit of a surprise back in 2008 when EADS, as Airbus was known then, selected PTC’s Windchill over Dassault Systèmes’ Enovia as a single enterprise system to harmonize PLM activities across all EADS business divisions. At the time, this was not only considered a bold decision, but also as a slap in the face of fellow French company and aerospace insider Dassault Systèmes which is Airbus’s CAD and CAE vendors of choice.

And Airbus just did it again. Going against the consensus, that is. Last month it announced signing a strategic partner agreement with Aras PLM “to use Aras Innovator for Enterprise-wide Engineering Business Processes beyond 30,000 Users.”

The selection of Aras over the top tier PLM players, is a strong testimonial that, at least in Airbus’s estimation, Aras Innovator software can handle the scale and complexity of the PLM requirements of a huge global manufacturing company. Aras will no doubt use this win to continue threatening the longstanding PLM hegemony.

But Airbus’s decision could mean more than simply Aras’s ability to compete against the big PLM companies. Anders Romare, Vice President of Engineering Solutions at Airbus was quoted by the press release to say: “The unique SaaS subscription business model of Aras which eliminates up-front license costs and includes system upgrades with customizations is also quite compelling.”

As the open licensing model employed by Aras is gaining recognition and acceptance even by the most traditional manufacturing industries, Aras will have more than just functionality and scale which, arguably, is getting harder to compare and compete on. It will have a different business model that could potentially become a bigger lever to disrupt the PLM’s status quo.

The exposure and buzz created by wins such as the recent one at Airbus is great, but Aras is not dependent on them. There seems to be wave of renewed interest in PLM, perhaps because the status quo has lasted for so long and companies are seeking more modern software architectures and delivery models. The open licensing model of Aras Innovator should help lower the barrier to entry and simplify the thorny ROI questions for new users as well as those seeking a replacement.

[Photo: Airbus]


A Flying Car by 2017?

By Automotive, Aviation and Aerospace No Comments

Will AeroMobil beat Terrafugia to Market?

According to CNN Money, Slovakian company AeroMobil will begin selling its AeroMobil 3.0 flying car in 2017. AeroMobil is a two-seat personal aircraft with folding wings that is also a street legal car and can be driven from a personal garage to the nearest airstrip.

The AeroMobil is powered by a single Rotax 912 engine which gives the aircraft a maximum speed of 125 MPH and a range of 435 miles. On the ground, the AeroMobil can travel at top speed of 100 MPH and has a range of 550 miles.

The specifications of AeroMobil are very similar to those of another light sport aircraft (LSA) class flying car – the Transition, manufactured by the Woburn, MA based Terrafugia (although the esthetics of the Transition pale in comparison to the very cool design of the AeroMobil). The Transition has been in development since 2006. The first prototype was flown successfully in early 2009, and the second generation Transition entered flight testing three years later, in early 2012.

Terrafugia was hoping to start delivery in 2016. While you can reserve a Transition for a refundable $10,000 deposit (the full price is $279,000), actual availability date seems uncertain.

In addition to the technical challenges, certifying any aircraft, let along one that needs to also be a street legal vehicle is an arduous process. In 2011, the National Highway Transportation Safety Agency (NHTSA) granted Terrafugia several exemptions, but limited the stability control and airbag exemptions to one year. In December 2014, the company asked the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) to allow a higher gross weight and faster stall speed relative to LSA classification.

While Terrafugia and the government agencies have been transparent about the certification process, AeroMobil provides only vague information about its aircraft’s certification status. According to AeroMobil’s website, the prototype is “compatible with the requirements set for an aircraft in the category Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) or Ultra Light in EU” and is “certified with Slovak Federation of Ultralight Flying.”

With that, it’s unclear how the company can deliver a certified aircraft by 2017 as CNN Money claims.

(Photo source: AeroMobil)


Number 48 (Jackson Pollock, 1949)

The Fallacy Behind Counting Lines of Code

By Automotive, Aviation and Aerospace, PLM 4 Comments

Mercedes-Benz vs. F-35

A while ago I attended a discussion about vehicle software development and maintenance. The presenters discussed the increased complexity in automotive software, especially in in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) and the advantages of remote over the air firmware update (FOTA).

To demonstrate the magnitude of the problem, one of the speakers used oft-cited statistics contrasting the number of lines of code (LOC) in the software in a modern car and of a military aircraft. The statistics (attributed to IEEE) were:

  • Current generation aircraft        1.7 Million LOCs
  • Next generation aircraft (F-35)   5.7 Million LOCs
  • Modern passenger car                100 Million LOCs

Do these figures mean that the software in a passenger car packs more functionality than an F-35?  As complexity increases exponentially with the number of lines of code, do the numbers indicate some 500-fold increase in the complexity of vehicle software? Read More

NASA Is Testing A Microgravity 3D Printer. Current Capability: Parts Costing 4 cents.

By 3D Printing, Aviation and Aerospace No Comments

(Photo: Made in Space)

Made in Space and NASA announced a new 3D printer designed to print parts in a microgravity environment. Reportedly, the printer completed a critical milestone towards flight certification and is scheduled for arrival at the International Space Station (ISS) in 2014.

The story was picked up by many, including CNN. But for some reason the original video in CNN’s story, which was a promo for NASA Ames Research Park’s Made in Space, was replaced by video of MakerBot technology.

There should be no doubt that 3D printing will help address many issues, on the ISS or elsewhere, especially in replicating broken parts that cannot or are not worth stocking. And NASA is investing in developing additive manufacturing technologies for space applications. However, for the foreseeable future, these are relatively simple parts made from a small range of materials. The state of art of 3D printing, especially printing equipment that can be operated in space, is far from the view expresses by NASA’s astronaut Timothy Creamer: “3D printing provides us the ability to do our own Star Trek replication right there on the spot to help us replace things we’ve lost, replace things we’ve broken, or maybe make things that we’ve thought of that could be useful.” Read More