SAE 2015 Aviation Technology Forum in Shanghai

SAE 2015 Aviation Technology Forum in Shanghai

Alex Wilson

From the SAE websiteThe SAE International Aviation Technology Forum will provide an open technical forum for engineers in aircraft design, aircraft engine design/integration, aircraft system/component suppliers, aviation authorities, aircraft design consultants and aircraft maintainers/sustainers, to get an overview of aircraft design processes from beginning to end, including modeling and simulation, safety assessment, electronics design, health monitoring, system integration and the challenges of aircraft design.”

Wind River participated in the panel discussion on TSO harmonization, reiterating that global standards are essential for the aviation community to become more efficient and continue to produce world wide products at an affordable price.  An update of the ARINC 653 and DO-297 standards were also given on the second day of the conference.

COMAC were a main sponsor and opened the event with a great presentation from their C919 Chief Designer, Wu Guanghui. To me the most interesting part of the presentation were that COMAC has only been formed since 2008, and having the ARJ21 going through FAA Type Certification and 450 orders for the upcoming C919 this is an impressive achievement!

Following this were several presentations showing the size and opportunity for airline and manufacturers in China. For example, China has only 43 Airlines compared to 70 in the USA, only 8% of China’s passenger use low cost airlines (Europe has this figure at 40%), and also that the market here is for over 5000 passenger aircraft.

Airbus Helicopters closed this opening segment with their view for both aircraft and rotor craft. This had some interesting social data on the “Global Middle Class” showing the decline of this segment in Europe and the growth in China. This is interesting as this is the main passenger segment which we all need for growth in the sector.  Also interesting were the differences between aircraft and rotor craft operators, with some 800 for aircraft and over 10,000 for rotor craft!

The second section discussed the More Electric Aircraft (MEA) and revealed that this is not necessarily a straightforward decision, because even though you gain some advantage in fuel savings (around ½ percent) you add weight and complexity to the aircraft, however, as with all new technology this is expected to change as drives become more efficient (and fuel prices go up again!) One area we might see this sooner is of course with Remotely Piloted Aircraft.

The CAAC (Chinese FAA) then presented on their work. Of note the ARJ-21 took some 11 years to get its Type Certificate through the CAAC, but I read this to be due to the rigour with which it was done, with FAA shadowing, and both COMAC and CAAC learning and validating every aspect of performing a TC.

Aviage presented some good information on Integrated Modular Avionics (IMA) and certification using RTCA DO-297, which showed the importance of international and widely adopted standards and methodologies for performing complex safety assessments.

CFM gave an update on the CFM and LEAP engine technology, the LEAP-1C being the engine of choice for the COMAC C919. These new more efficient engines are designed for the next generation of passenger airliners, such as the A320NEO, 737MAX, and C919. Certification of these new engines should happen this year with service starting in 2016 on the 1A version.

GE Aviation showed some interesting data coming out of their Predix  Analytics work, which ties us into the Internet of Things (IoT). This takes engine data (currently not a live feed due to restrictions on bandwidth) and performs advanced predictive maintenance to give operators better insight into engine life and logistics for repair and overhaul. We cover this use case in our IoT for Commercial Aviation white paper.

It is clear that China is investing heavily in Aviation, and is increasing both their experience and competitiveness in this global market. It will be interesting to see the impact of the C919 in the world market after it enters service.