Terrafugia Uses Dassault Systèmes to Create Street-Legal Aeroplane

22 January 2010

Dassault Systèmes’ CATIA brand has been chosen by Terrafugia, creators of the revolutionary Transition Roadable Aircraft, for 3D composite and finite-element modelling.

Terrafugia’s Transition is a two-seater vehicle made from carbon composites that is designed to run as both a car and aeroplane.

The first working prototype of the Transition was completed in June 2009, and since then Terrafugia has been working on refining this vehicle, including experimenting with different materials.

In order to analyze the way different materials would bend or move under various conditions, the company required a solution with advanced 3D composite ply-modelling, dedicated part-modelling and material behaviour simulation capabilities.

Terrafugia subsequently chose CATIA for its composite modelling needs, which used to correct problems like wrinkles and bridges in the very first stages of design by visualizing ply characteristics and fibre behaviour.

CATIA CPD was used alongside another piece of Dassault Systemes’ software, SolidWorks 3D design suite, which it began using in March 2009.

According to Ben Zelnick, engineer at Terrafugia: “CATIA is a great complement to our SolidWorks solution. Being able to have a full digital model of a ply-by-ply layout will allow us to conduct accurate structural analyses, which is invaluable in reducing the weight of the Transition. In fact, we recently correlated an analysis of a CATIA model of a portion of the structure closely to a sample tested in our facility.”

Jacques Leveillé-Nizerolle, CEO, CATIA, Dassault Systèmes added: “We are pleased that DS SolidWorks’ design-centric customers can now benefit from CATIA’s leading composites virtual design and analysis applications to successfully meet their composites needs. This will complement CATIA’s full PLM strategy which is based on delivering a complete end-to-end PLM composites solution on a single platform, from design to simulation and manufacturing.”

The Transition Roadable Aircraft can cruise up to 450 miles at 115+ mph, take off and land at local airports, drive at highway speeds on any road and is said to fit in a normal suburban garage space. The two-seat vehicle has front wheel drive on the road and a propeller for flight, and manufacturers claim it can transform from plane to car in thirty seconds.

Both flight and drive mode are powered by unleaded automobile gasoline.

By giving pilots a convenient ground transportation option, it is intended that the Transition will reduce the cost, inconvenience and weather sensitivity of personal aviation.

Delivery for the first Transition Roadable Aircraft is expected in 2011.

Images © Terrafugia

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