U.S. Air Force Building “Digital Hangar” For Lifecycle Management Of Aerospace Systems

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The U.S. Air Force has a brand new hangar under construction at their Wright-Patterson base in Ohio. This new facility isn’t made of concrete and steel, it’s made up of digital ones and zeroes.

The Digital Hangar is a concept that was created by Dr. Rick Graves, a design and analysis branch aerospace research engineer at the Air Force Research Laboratory. This new technology is a visual repository containing digital surrogates of aerospace systems that have been gated through rigorous validation and verification processes.

One of the major goals of this effort according to Graves, is to research and identify high value data that needs to be maintained to produce digital artifacts that can be shared throughout every branch of the Air Force, including NASA.

The creation of the Digital Hangar is part of a Department of Defense Digital Engineering Initiative that began back in June of 2018. This was announced with the publication of the Digital Engineering Strategy that explained the DoD’s plans to transform design, development, delivery, operation, and the ongoing sustaining of systems. Those interested in reading the full plan can find it here: (https://www.acq.osd.mil/se/initiatives/init_de.html)

According to Graves, the development of the Digital Hangar is focused on the design and analysis phase of the acquisition life cycle.

“It’s a lot cheaper to address problems or to look at physics-based questions through simulation as a project moves up the scale to ground testing or even a flight test, where it becomes more and more expensive,” he said. “We want to know what types of information we should be generating and using to make decisions during early design phases because that’s where a lot of the costs for an aircraft get locked in. We want to know what types of information we should be gathering over the life cycle of the airplane. The idea is to identify what data is worth keeping, and reuse that data.”

This technology is sure to be a big step forward for the aerospace industry, especially when it comes to the speed of developing new innovations. We’ll be sure to keep an eye on any updates from the U.S. Air Force on the state of the Digital Hangar, so be sure to keep checking back with us here at Manufacturing Talk Radio for all the latest details.