Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE aids development of solar-powered aircraft

Sean Dudley
Sean Dudley
By Sean Dudley on 10 March 2015
Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE aids development of solar-powered aircraft

Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE platform is playing a vital role in the design and development of a new solar-powered aircraft.

The 3DEXPERIENCE platform, including its CATIA and ENOVIA applications, is being used to design, build and validate the Solar Impulse 2 airplane.

The Solar Impulse 1 model was a test bed for the complex technologies that are required to fly during both the day and night using just solar energy. It is hoped that the Solar Impulse 2 will continue the advancements being made in this area by flying around the world in 2015.

The team behind the new airplane faced a series of new challenges when designing the Solar Impulse 2, including having to create a new design for the fuselage and wings, and using new materials to achieve strict weight objectives.

Furthermore, designing a cockpit that would be both safe and comfortable for a pilot on an around-the-world flight required sophisticated design and management tools.

“We had to be right the first time,” said Bertrand Piccard, initiator, chairman and pilot, Solar Impulse. “We needed proven, cutting edge industry solutions to craft the experience for which we were looking. That’s why we went to Dassault Systèmes and its 3DEXPERIENCE platform. An experience perspective is exactly what we needed when creating an airplane to achieve such long flights. We’re in the cockpit for five days at a time. Everything, from the propulsion, to the electronics, to the crew facilities needs to be considered, planned, integrated and implemented for such a flight to be successful.”

Thanks to the 3DEXPERIENCE platform and a range of Dassault Systèmes’ applications that the team has used since 2006, a smooth development process has taken place.

“This is about more than just serving the needs of a customer,” said Michel Tellier, vice president, Aerospace and Defense Industry, Dassault Systèmes. “It’s more than just an airplane, Solar Impulse is a message. The Solar Impulse project is showing the world that alternative, clean energy can be safe and viable in the most extreme circumstances and that it has the power to change the world.”

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