100 Years of Farnborough – The Future of Aerospace with Michel Tellier

With the 100th anniversary of the Farnborough Michel Tellier-picInternational Air Show, one of the most important events in the aviation industry, just wrapping up, we had the chance to debrief with Michel Tellier, Vice President, Aerospace and Defense Industry for Dassault Systèmes.  Mich discussed industry trends, future predictions and his take on the show’s highlights.

What are the top tech trends in the aerospace and defense industry today?

There is a lot of focus on improving production rates, especially for commercial aircraft, as we pursue the efficient delivery of historically large orders. Previously, the A&D industry ramped up capacity by adding facilities and crews, but that approach is unsustainable. Today, we are more aggressively adopting technologies from other industries that produce at high rates, such as automotive, and adapting these technologies for aerospace. A key example is using a much higher level of production automation, and thus pushing the boundary on how to make this automation technology flexible and precise enough for the aerospace industry. Flexible production at high rates also requires digitizing both the factory and the production processes all the way back to engineering, and the aerospace industry is a core contributor to this transformation.

Another technology taking center stage is the adoption of additive layer manufacturing, or what is commonly referred to as 3D printing. There are two major opportunities presented by additive layer manufacturing. The first is that additive layer manufacturing is largely tool-less, and the second is that it allows for unique part topologies that are not possible to produce using traditional manufacturing methods.  Tool-less production is terrific for rapid prototyping and thus critical for conceptual design, and it is also very useful for remote or localized production. For instance, an airport or battlefield can print the needed parts without having to store them in advance, thus improving fleet availability at a lower cost. The second benefit, unique topologies, affords the creation of far more optimized parts incorporating cavities or lattices that are simply not possible with other forms of manufacturing practiced today. This allows engineers to create more sophisticated parts that are tougher, lighter and stronger much in the same way that multi-axe machining displaced stamped or hydro-formed sheet metal parts over the past three decades.

The key to applying these technologies, however, is driving the rigor in their adoption to establish the processes, norms and standards to make them robust enough for common application in aerospace. Dassault Systèmes recently partnered with the National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR) to open a 3DEXPERIENCE center on the Wichita State University (WSU) Innovation Campus in order to advance the use of new technologies such as additive manufacturing. The center covers topics such as the development of newly engineered materials, the simulation and optimization of those materials, additive manufacturing processes and systems, and multi-robotic advanced manufacturing, all using Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE platform.

Lastly, we’re also seeing a growing emphasis on enhancing the consumer experience as the air travel industry competes to attract passengers and build customer loyalty.  From immersive or experiential 3D technology that helps major manufacturers with their customers and operators refine the passenger cabin in business jets and commercial airliners. This effort also extends to futuristic entertainment systems on commercial airlines and personalized navigation tools to speed passengers to their gates at airports – advanced software solutions are driving the development of new innovations around the passenger experience.


Any predictions for the next 5 years in aviation?

  • Drones. We’re likely to see the emergence of commercially licensed drones delivering consumer goods to individuals within five years.
  • Supplemental sources of energy are coming soon as well.  A few weeks ago we witnessed the touchdown of the Solar Impulse 2 – the first solar powered aircraft to attempt to circumnavigate the globe – in New York in the middle of the night. It won’t be long until solar power begins to account for at least a portion of the power used by aircraft and certainly a tremendous amount of investment on electrically powered aircraft.
  • Last week, the Long March 7 rocket was launched in China as part of its space station plan, progressing towards the next wave of lunar exploration.

Looking further out, I think we are seeing the early work that will lead to the launch of air taxis which feature aircraft with vertical take-off and landing capabilities that can be flown autonomously and operated as a service much like Uber for cars.  Companies like Joby Aviation are already working to fill this gap and should have a plane in operation in the not-too-distant future.


What were Farnborough visitors most excited about at this year’s air show?

In addition to the live airshow, drone show, flight simulators and other exhibits, the Boeing Company celebrated its 100th anniversary as a pioneer in aviation and it continues to pave the way for the future of flight. We’ve been an innovation platform partner to Boeing dating back to our first engagement in 1986, through the development of the Boeing 787, and our partnership is stronger than ever today.  Both companies share a passion for innovation and for producing breakthrough experiences for our customers.  We’re looking forward to working alongside Boeing as they continue to set the standard for commercial aviation as well as leading the development of next-generation aircraft that will change the world.

The hotly anticipated F35 B from Lockheed Martin made its public debut in the UK for the first time. The Marine variant, capable of vertical take-off and landing, is an incredible technological achievement and is now ready to commence operations with the Royal Marines. We saw a terrific aerial display of what can be considered the most versatile and capable combat aircraft ever!

Sharon Rodger

Sharon Rodger

Editor; Internal & Digital Communications at Dassault Systemes
Sharon Rodger is the editor of Navigate the Future and a member of the North America marketing team for Dassault Systemes, the 3DEXPERIENCE company. Sailing and ski mom to Connecticut College daughter (Go Camels!). See the ocean every day and breathe. Suggestions on great podcasts are welcome.
Sharon Rodger