Airbus Industries now has Windchill installed across all the partners, and is doing a lot of work to develop its use for the A3XX superjumbo project.
Airbus is one of the success stories of international co-operation in the aircraft industry. The main partners are British Aerospace, Daimler-Benz Aerospace, Aerospatiale and CASA, each a leading company in its own right.
The UK company is responsible for the wings and fuel system so priorities include ensuring relevant computer systems connect and work together faultlessly, and that the components do too.
Peter Gadd, chairman of the PDM implementation team, says: ‘We see the Windchill environment as suited to multi-site operation. All the work we’ve done is based on that. Airbus has standardised on CAD systems for the design platform, and uses Windchill as the common system to link all the partners together.’
The main engineering problem is that design, manufacture and assembly are distributed across Europe so, for instance, the wings are designed and made in the UK and fitted in Germany.
‘We can only achieve this with the aid of a flexible PDM system,’ continues Gadd, ‘as the designs need to be shared and concurrent. Later on we expect to extend the use of Windchill to suppliers, with them either having their own systems or a way of accessing ours.’
Although the Airbus A3XX project is massive, there is potential for the Windchill technology to find other applications within British Aerospace. ‘The future lies in further use of the backbone,’ says Gadd. ‘If it proves itself it will quickly become more widespread than just the A3XX project.’