The 2020 pandemic may have decimated the airline sector but is now showing signs of building up. However, we are seeing increased funding and decreasing costs that are fueling opportunities.
No matter the airline industry’s performance in the next few years, aerospace manufacturers and contractors are cutting costs by increasing fuel efficiency, developing new materials, and improving supply chains.
Here’s a look at some major engineering technologies and trends the aerospace will leverage as the sector recovers.
Electric and Hybrid Engines Will Reduce Costs
Thought leaders are focusing on following regulations, preserving the environment with engines that consume less fuel, produce less noise, release fewer emissions, and produce more power.
Aero players are enhancing the efficiency of combustion engines and are exploring electric and hybrid propulsion systems to achieve their goals. The aeroacoustics will be a design focus, necessary as drones and urban air mobility (UAM) vehicles begin to fly over cities.
Producing these new flight systems will require an in-depth understanding of the high-altitude performance of materials, batteries and inverters, cables, control electronics, and software. Engineers can account for these variables with Multiphysics simulations when designing hybrid and electric aircraft engines.
Autonomous Flight Systems Will be the Future
Autonomy will take on many forms and, in many systems, from drones to space vehicles. Autonomy is fundamental to space travel also, and it will mitigate any unforeseen human experience in space. If those autonomous probes wait for mission control, it will take hours or days to send and receive a response.
At the same time, companies are building a case for UAMs for local air transport that would connect regional airports and airstrips. It would reduce work to a single crew member or work autonomously.
Even single-pilot aircrafts a high degree of automation and cockpit redesign. Engineers will optimize it with embedded software and optical simulations to ensure the pilot can read instruments in all-weather conditions.
Additionally, they must perform closed-loop simulations between the sensors, control software, and intelligent algorithms. Testing these systems in Multiphysics simulations and virtual reality can give data on how they will react to all possible situations in a reasonable timeframe.
Predictive Maintenance will Dictate MRO
The increasing number of aircraft and their mounting complexity is growing the MRO market. Previously airline budgets were bogged down by unplanned downtimes. The current generation of aircraft generates more simulated data.
Engineers can predict and prevent malfunctions, minimizing expenses associated with grounding an aircraft. Data can also time maintenance cycles. Predictive maintenance is already bringing in significant savings.
The industry can use data from simulated failures and historical data to fill in any gaps and predict the behavior of new technologies.
Additive Manufacturing of Lightweight Parts will be the Focus
Engineers have taken an interest in the additive manufacturing of metal parts. They have realized that additive manufacturing coupled with topology optimization consolidates parts, a better proposition than lighter parts, cutting time and cost. It will also simplify maintenance and save fuel.
Additive manufacturing also gives the industry the freedom to produce parts on-demand, making the supply chain more efficient. However, it needs a high degree of expertise to avoid stresses and deformation and reduce the number of supports. Poorly optimized printing processes will lead to erosion of time and capital.
Manually iterating the printing process isn’t viable. However, with simulation, designing parts can become easier.
Smart Materials are Showing Possibilities
Advances in material science have led to possibilities in the industry through carbon nanotubes and graphene. It is reducing weight and reducing fuel consumption. Research from agencies like NASA and others could lead to advanced materials that aerospace engineers could create advanced wings.
Multiphysics Simulations are Reducing Growing Complexity
Engineering teams are focused on single physics domains before passing results to another team. Today’s aircraft are too complex for this siloed approach.
Multiphysics simulation is helping engineers retain accuracy, reduce risks, and tackle complex challenges. The results feedback each other and make engineers better equipped to predict how the aircraft reacts in the real world.
However, this is yet to catch on because many companies are still using legacy systems, simulations, and processes. New entrants Virgin Galactic and SpaceX have achieved success with Multiphysics simulations and are threatening market leaders.
Driving Growth in Emerging Technologies
Key players in the sector include Boeing, Airbus, Northrop Grumman, Collins Aerospace, Bombardier, and General Dynamics. They are keen to collaborate, invest, and acquire players creating and accelerating critical advantages through cutting-edge technology, strategy, and solutions.
Long-term cost savings and increased production rates are the most notable reasons for partnerships and M&As. Here is a brief overview of service providers.
Cyient – Its electronic and mechanical aerospace manufacturing engineering solutions are developing advanced aerospace avionics systems.
Alten – Its focus areas are human-machine interface, digital dashboards, operational security, and aircraft engines.
TCS – Its digital services and solutions design next-gen air-frame structures. They offer a comprehensive digital thread across the A&D lifecycle.
Akka Technologies – Its design, management, and service offerings include aircraft modification, cockpit design, flight control and guidance, flight physics, aircraft power systems, and systems & maintenance engineering.
Draup’s analysis of the aerospace sector helped us identify key market regions, key players and startups in the space, market trends, key locations, R&D centers, and initiatives.
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