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New tools for exploiting flight test data

Developing today’s new generations of airplanes means cautiously and methodically exploring the aero-elastic behaviour of aircraft structures.

This procedure involves combining data from diverse ground, laboratory and flight tests. The EUREKA project E! 2419 FLITE, coordinated by France’s SOPEMEA and gathering French, Belgian and Polish partners, is aimed at improving the exploitation of flight test data, saving on time and costs and improving passenger safety in the long run.

“SOPEMEA has now taken part in several research programmes in cooperation with airframe manufacturers,” says project coordinator Bernard Colomies. “Our overarching goal has been to develop new methods for identifying and exploiting aircraft measurements and testing.” In addition to world ranking flight test technology providers, the FLITE consortium also includes leading manufacturers from the European civil aircraft sector.

FLITE saves time and money

“A first EUREKA project led by SOPEMEA, called SINOPSYS, made it possible to develop new methods for treating data and to try them out during military test flights,” explains Colomies. The FLITE project, he says, takes previous work one step further. “We now have new techniques for exploiting flight data collected under natural and ambient conditions, including turbulence, without recourse to artificial excitation.” FLITE partners have also developed new algorithms and software for real-time treatment of data during trial flights.

“All of this goes towards improving testing efficiency, reducing flight test costs and, ultimately, improving safety,” says Colomies. “FLITE has provided new tools, including powerful computer software, allowing airframe manufacturers to extract better information from trial flight data. We are now working towards a new EUREKA project, FLITE2, which will target the successful transfer of these tools to the manufacturing industry.”

EUREKA benefits

Colomies says the innovations developed by the FLITE project will be of interest to other industrial sectors beyond aeronautics, particularly the space, automotive and civil engineering sectors, where the testing of structures is an important part of new product development.

“Working within the EUREKA programme allowed us to bring together a range of European expertise and cultures in this area,” says Colomies. “This could not have been done without EUREKA. Each of the partners has brought its own stone to the building of the project and all partners have moved forward together. We now hope to bring the benefits to a wider industrial public and, in the end, to citizens at large.”

Sally Horspool | alfa
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