Case Study

Warsaw University of Technology applies NX in the design of new motor glider

Warsaw University of Technology

Students gain valuable experience in technical projects using advanced product development technology

Designing a multi-purpose aircraft

The Warsaw University of Technology is a technical research institution with traditions in education dating back to the nineteenth century. It is a forward-thinking institution where high-quality education meets world-class research and innovation. The university is one of the leading institutes of technology in Poland, and one of the largest in Central Europe. It employs almost 2,500 teaching faculty, and the student body numbers over 37,000. The university comprises 19 departments covering almost all fields of science and technology.

The Faculty of Power and Aeronautical Engineering is composed of the Institute of Aeronautical Technology and Applied Mechanics and the Institute of Thermal Technology. The scope of scientific and research activity covers aerodynamics, aviation systems, mechanics, machine design, construction and utilization of aircraft, theory of machines and robots, problems of material durability and material engineering, as well as biomechanics, issues connected with machine safety and other related areas.

The Faculty of Power and Aeronautical Engineering offers full-time studies in four areas: automation and robotics, power engineering, aerospace engineering and mechanics, and machine construction. The university also offers studies conducted in English in power engineering, aerospace engineering and computer-aided engineering (CAE).

In 2008, the Faculty of Power and Aeronautical Engineering and the Faculty of Machine Construction and Aeronautical Engineering of the Rzeszów University of Technology teamed with the Jeżów Glider Plant and received funding from the technological initiative of the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education to develop a new glider powered by electrical energy.

The program for the design, construction and testing of a two-seat motor glider was the first joint undertaking of this type for both academic institutions. The program is also a continuation of the Ultra-Light Sailplane (ULS) project, conducted since 1978 at the Institute of Aeronautical Technology and Applied Mechanics.

The result of the program, the AOS-71 glider, is constructed using hybrid composites reinforced with carbon fiber and is equipped with an innovative electrical drive system hidden in the airframe. It is the first aircraft of its type constructed in Poland and one of only a few in the world. AOS-71 has a comfortable and spacious cabin and an ecological drive that deliver long and safe flights. The layout of the pilot seats is also innovative. Usually, in gliders and motor gliders, two seats are placed one in front of the other. In AOS-71 model, they are placed beside each other.

Thanks to the ecological electric drive, flights will be safer and it will be possible to fly even when weather conditions are not suitable for gliding. In addition to functioning as flying laboratories, both the manned and unmanned version of AOS-71 may be used in basic training of pilots, in teaching basic acrobatics, in competitions, for recreational and passenger flights, and for other tasks including patrolling forests, state borders or power lines.

Accelerating the design process

The design of the motor glider was developed entirely using NX™ software, an integrated solution for design, engineering analysis and production from product lifecycle management (PLM) specialist Siemens PLM Software. NX includes highperformance capabilities for computer-aided design (CAD), CAE, and manufacturing (CAM).

The application of NX helps the design team at the Institute of Aeronautical Technology and Applied Mechanics, under the leadership of Professor Krzysztof Arczewski, to implement fast and flexible design processes thanks to advanced conceptual design, 3D modeling and documentation tools. The use of NX software has also facilitated interdisciplinary simulations and structural, motion, thermal, flow and multiphysics analyses. It also provides a full range of solutions for the production stage, such as selection of tools, processing and quality control.

“All projects characterized by such a degree of complexity require many changes and modifications,” says Jędrzej Marjanowski, designer at Warsaw University of Technology. “The use of the CAD system is irreplaceable here. NX helps us modify the existing model quickly and effectively.”

“The visualization of models in the NX system helps us to analyze the design in detail, both at the design stage and during discussions with the team of designers,” says Jacek Gadomski, associate professor. “During work on the project, I could present the current stage of implementation to my manager at any time. Moreover, thanks to the advanced visualization, even people from outside the group of designers can easily understand the functional principles of the device.”

Continuation of tradition

“Our university has rich traditions connected with the development of concepts, design, construction, research and utilization of aircraft,” says Wojciech Frączek, the chief designer. “In this way, we have educated many excellent aeronautical engineers. This type of activity has been conducted at the university since 1916, when the Aviation Section was established by the Circle of Mechanics of the students of Warsaw University of Technology.” In 1925, the Aviation Workshop was started, where the main constructors’ roles were played by Stanisław Rogalski, Stanisław Wigura and Jerzy Drzewiecki – creators of RWD tourist planes that enjoyed worldwide renown.

“The Rzeszów University of Technology has rich experience in the testing and exploration of aircraft designs,” explains Frączek. “Talents were developed there by many excellent pilots. This is why we decided to join our forces. At the Warsaw University of Technology we deal with the design, construction and management of the production process, whereas the team in Rzeszów will prepare and carry out ground static tests and tests in the air.”

Project success continues tradition

The work on the AOS-71 motor glider lasted more than four years. All of the documentation was developed using NX. The first flight of the motor glider with a hidden engine took place in June, 2012, at the Warsaw airport of Babice, and the first flight with the use of the electric engine took place in December of the same year in Mielec.

Participants in the project claim that the creation of the first Polish motor glider with an electric drive ended successfully thanks to the application of NX. “The main advantage of the NX software is dynamic acceleration of the design stage,” claims Frączek. “This is a tool that can easily translate our concepts and ideas to reality. We could have probably achieved similar results by using traditional methods, but this would have obviously increased the completion time significantly, and would have involved the effort of more people. Use of NX software helps us design better products faster, allows us to simulate their operation and makes production easier.”

The design team realized that NX software is the most integrated, flexible and efficient solution for design, engineering analysis and production in the aerospace and defense industry, because it supports design in an open environment, and at the same time delivers capabilities for multidisciplinary simulations that help guide the product development process. NX also offers a full range of advanced production functionality, and is integrated with Teamcenter® software for PLM.

“The implementation of the ULS program started in 1978,” says Frączek. “Since then, seven generations of gliders and motor gliders have been designed and built by the scientific research team under the leadership of Dr. Roman Świtkiewicz, including three which have been implemented for serial production. In our opinion, the creative contribution of students in the process of constructing a manned aircraft is the best method for developing in students the mindset of a contemporary engineer or scientist.”

“The process of construction of an aircraft was closely connected with the teaching process conducted by our faculty. During the AOS-71 motor glider project, several diploma theses were written, and many students learned practical application of the NX system,” says Frączek.

“NX will be used continuously for teaching purposes,” says Gadomski. “At the same time we trust that new projects will come up that will enable us to use the NX system in practice.”

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