ICAF 2023
Delft, The Netherlands, 2023
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Digital engineering for improved aircraft structural integrity program execution

Paper: Go-down icaf2023 Tracking Number 5
PPT: Go-down icaf2023 PPT presentation

Session: Session 1: Digital engineering I
Room: Theatre room: plenary
Session start: 11:10 Mon 26 Jun 2023

Chuck Babish
Affiliation: United States Airforce

Topics: - Digital Engineering (General Topics)


The United States Air Force (USAF) has spent considerable effort describing a Digital Transformation vision and establishing initiatives to implement the key tenets for all programs. One of the key tenets is developing a Digital Engineering (DE) capability with the purpose of “achieving a measure of authoritative virtualization that replaces, automates, or truncates formerly real-world activities” as stated in official correspondence to all USAF members. The USAF strategy to implement DE in programs was further defined as the seven discrete efforts described below: 1. develop digital models of systems, 2. develop a digital twin and digital thread, 3. implement an integrated digital environment, 4. employ a tailored DE strategy for contracts with industry, 5. ensure organizational readiness for DE, 6. implement digital acquisition, and 7. track digital maturity metrics. DE is not a new concept for Aircraft Structural Integrity Program (ASIP) execution defined in MIL-STD-1530. The ASIP has always embraced, utilized, and relied upon models and data to conduct and continuously update the structural analyses used as the primary basis for structural certification throughout the entire aircraft life cycle. However, there is more work to be accomplished to continue on the journey toward a comprehensive DE environment for proper ASIP execution and the Digital Transformation initiative is an excellent opportunity to significantly advance the state-of-the-art. This paper will define terms such as DE, Digital Thread, and Digital Twin as they relate to ASIP execution and describe the considerations, key models, data, and tools commonly used by aircraft programs. The paper will present some use cases and benefit examples for expanding the use of DE for ASIP execution as well as some challenges that must be overcome. Finally, the paper will present the path forward to improve DE for ASIP execution including competencies and personnel required, priorities for aircraft in development, and priorities for aircraft in sustainment.