Model-Based Design of Complex Aeronautical Systems through Digital Twin and Thread Concepts
Managing the lifecycle of the elements of a complex and safety-critical system, from conceptual design to support in operation, is still a relevant challenge in the industrial domain. Starting from research and engineering activities, up to production and delivery, the need of maintaining the trace of dependence, changes, and possible updates regarding the final product is a crucial aspect for success. Particularly, conceptual and preliminary design activities are affected by a high level of uncertainty and a certain degree of project instability, usually caused by the need to explore alternative solutions and variants. Different tasks are performed concerning the identification of system requirements, functional and physical behavior using model-based design (MBD), and model-based systems engineering, which, generally, are subjected to extensive trade studies aimed at identifying the best solution. In this context, this paper presents how model-based digital twin and threads concepts will likely change the way in which the MBD process is managed, overcoming the issues associated with federated IT infrastructures and with tools integration. Notably, lifecycle and nonlifecycle related interoperability aspects are described, with particular focus on the exploitation of standards for lifecycle collaboration and heterogeneous simulation. The design of an ice protection system for a regional aircraft is selected as case study, starting from the work performed by the authors within the EC-funded research project CRYSTAL.