Representatives from Airbus and Dassault Aviation meeting for an agreement to work on a sixth-generation fighter. (Airbus)
Airbus has signed a five-year memorandum of agreement with Dassault Systèmes (3DS) to overhaul the engineering and manufacture of Airbus aircraft across the entire company, civil and military.
Under the agreement, Airbus is paying 3DS an undisclosed amount in licensing fees and the latter will also collaborate during the five years on "eight topics" to allow Airbus to transform its "entire product lifecycle using end-to-end digital continuity to achieve a breakthrough" in the design, manufacture and support of aircraft, according to an Airbus spokesman.
"This MOA for licenses covers all Airbus divisions," he said. "This is completely new and could 'disrupt' internally the company."
The crown jewel of the agreement is 3DS' 3DEXPERIENCE platform, which fills 310 roles, according to 3DS, such as 3D component designer, aero surface modeler, city viewer, applications developer and social business analyst. The company pitches the platform as a data-fed simulation and analysis tool that can support all aspects of a business, from marketing to engineering, with both cloud-based and on-premise tools. All tools are available through one interface.
Using 3DEXPERIENCE, Airbus hopes to implement unified digital design, manufacturing and services (DDMS) across all of its divisions and product lines.
“We are not just talking about digitalization or a 3D experience, we are rethinking the way aircraft are designed and operated, streamlining and speeding up our processes with customer satisfaction in mind,” said Guillaume Faury, president of Airbus Commercial Aircraft in a statement. “DDMS is a catalyst for change and, with it, we are building a new model for the European aerospace industry with state-of-the-art technology. Our target is a robust production setup that offers a reduction in product development lead time.”
3DS is a subsidiary of the French Dassault group that is also behind aircraft such as the Falcon family of business jets and the Rafale fighter. Dassault and Airbus are also partnering on a sixth-generation fighter to replace the French Rafale and Airbus' German Eurofighter Typhoon as well as the Spanish F-18 Hornet fleet. Rather than manufacturing, 3DS focuses on simulation and data software like that offered by its all-inclusive 3DEXPERIENCE platform.
According to 3DS, the 3DEXPERIENCE platform will allow Airbus designers to collaborate more closely with the manufacturing facilities, reducing cost and time to market on next-generation aircraft.
"Nothing exemplifies the intersection of technology, science and art more than aviation," said Bernard Charlès, Dassault Systèmes CEO. "The Aerospace industry has a proven track record of fast transformation, faster than in most industries. It delivers high-quality innovation and new services for operations in highly complex and regulated environments. The 3DEXPERIENCE platform will accelerate the digital transformation of Airbus."