How Digital Tools Are Changing Aircraft DesignAngus Batey
As aircraft become more connected, with their subsystems increasingly expected to be accessible not just to pilots and others on board but also to analysts, technicians and operational support staff working in other locations, the role of digital technologies is becoming ever more fundamental. Those technologies are not just changing the way aircraft operate; they are influencing every aspect of aircraft design. That includes optimizing components for weight and efficiency—producing shapes that would not be possible to fabricate without using digital design and additive manufacturing technologies—integrating different elements of the build process in ways that enable designers to revise the physical product as well as supporting documentation and more. As these technologies mature, new areas will open up to exploration and research, with ideas that seem novel today—such as holographic digital assistants for the pilots of the future—likely to take their place in future programs, much as digital twins and augmented-reality maintenance systems have transitioned from being cool science projects a few years ago to essential frontline tools today.