Smarter Testing aims for data driven test and certification

An aerospace project is underway that aims to develop a novel test and certification process for aeronautical structures that combines cyber-physical information.

Airbus’ Iron Bird test rig (Image: Airbus)

Sponsored by the Aerospace Technology Institute, £15m data-driven ‘Smarter Testing’ programme will use existing physical test programmes to explore how novel inspection techniques can be used to predict product performance and identify failures early.


The three-year project brings together the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), Airbus Operations, CFMS Services, GOM UK, Dassault Systemes UK and Liverpool University.

According to NPL, there is an increasing drive for businesses to use data-driven simulations to replace physical testing. This will allow engineers to accelerate product development and unlock the complexity of proving that a product or system meets performance requirements.

In a statement, Airbus’ Steve Raynes, head of R&T Business Development, said: “The opportunity this project presents is huge. It will be a real step-change in the way we approach an extremely costly and time-consuming part of a vital aspect of aircraft manufacturing.

“Simply put, we’re going digital across a number of aerospace testing and certification processes. When you consider that to date, a lot of this work has been done on huge physical test rigs which have to be built and maintained, you can easily see how having a digital representation in place of some physical testing can help save time and money.”

Transitioning to an industrially digitalised manufacturing landscape will see a step-change in the volume of data used in manufacturing and trust in data will become a critical issue as people and processes become more reliant on it.

For its part, NPL said ‘it will play a critical role in developing the expertise and standards that enable data to be trusted and used with confidence.’ Using its test laboratories, developing novel test standards and applying advanced data science techniques, NPL will provide a link between product developers and the data analysts, generating the trust needed to move towards data-driven simulation for product development, text and certification.

Gareth Edwards, strategy lead for Industrial Digitalisation, NPL, said: “The direct benefit of NPL’s work will be the creation and adoption of the technology, skills and understanding needed to innovate and compete within digitalised product development supply chains. This will lead to the creation of new and higher skilled jobs that address the productivity challenge, a strengthening of supply chains within the UK and an increased competitiveness for businesses in the global market.”