Inspection and Fractographic Analysis to Develop a Digital Twin for a Legacy Aircraft – Phase II

NCMS Project #: 142008

Problem: Establishing digital twins for legacy commercial aircraft is a problem for the aviation industry as a whole.  The data necessary to establish digital twins for commercial aircraft is either non-existent or cost prohibitive to obtain.  This initiative will use the B-1 to provide a model/template that addresses how to create detailed digital twins for legacy aircraft where much of the requisite technical data is missing.  

Benefit: Development and validation of a B-1 Digital Twin environment will lead to further development of digital twin advancements to evaluate damage or changes to the vehicle usage in order to repair, modify the design, modify structural inspection intervals or even reevaluate the design life of the asset.  The results and project deliverables will easily transition to the commercial industry and the public sector.  

Solution/Approach: Phase II represents the next logical step and is necessary in order to create a digital twin of the entire B-1 aircraft.  In order to do so, additional components such as the horizontal and vertical stabilizers, fuselage, nacelle and flaps must be included.  Phase II will be centered around additional, non-destructive inspection tasks, performed on actual operational, flight critical parts.  Phase II will begin the development of a level 2 digital twin.  The level 2 digital twin developed will consist of a master geometric digital twin of the fuselage, wings and stabilizers and a Global Finite Element model of these regions of the airframe.  It will also evaluate the external loads required to validate future detailed models and use cases. 

Impact on Warfighter:

  • Greater safety and security
  • Reduce maintenance and sustainment costs
  • Increase productivity and life span of assets
  • Improve warfighter readiness

DOD Participation:

  • Air Force B-1 SPO Personnel
  • U.S. Army Aviation
  • Naval Air Systems Command

Industry Participation:

  • Wichita State University (WSU) – National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR)
  • NCMS

Benefit Area(s):

  • Cost savings
  • Repair turn-around time
  • Maintenance avoidance and reliability
  • Obsolescence management and continued maintenance capability
  • Maintenance management improvement
  • Improved readiness
  • Durability
  • Reliability improvement
  • Lightweighting

Focus Area:

  • Rapid problem solving