November 10, 2011
Lufthansa Technik develops virtual fitting technology for aircraft
Lufthansa Technik AG has developed a new method for significantly shortening the “Fitcheck”, and has filed a patent application for significant elements of it. The “Virtual Fitcheck” will revolutionize today’s normal practice, under which the various elements of the cabin installation have to be trial-fitted in the real aircraft in a time-consuming process. The new procedure, developed under a project due to run to 2013 (funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and implemented through the excellence cluster for the aerospace region of Hamburg), is based on virtual three-dimensional modeling of the airframe, cabin and systems. Thus, most of the components can be designed and checked prior to the start of production so that they fit into the customer aircraft straightaway without a test fitting. Not only is the complete 3D model (“digital mock-up”) tested on the computer, but virtual reality is used during the Virtual Fitcheck as well. For this purpose the designers enter a 12m² glass cube known as the Cave Automatic Virtual Environment (CAVE). With the aid of special glasses and infrared cameras on the ceiling, the system creates a faithful three-dimensional reproduction of the cabin in which the technicians can move freely. As all the data generated is mapped faithfully on a 1:1 basis, any problem areas can be identified more easily and investigated more closely than on the workstation. All the data gained through CAVE flows automatically into production, so that inaccuracies or errors can be avoided even before the elements of the cabin are built in the workshops.