The US Air Force Research Laboratory has awarded Istari Digital a $19.2-million contract to develop a fixed-wing drone using advanced digital engineering methods.
Called Flyer Øne, the program aims to demonstrate how digital-first processes can be applied to support aircraft production from design to certification.
Aerospace vehicles have yet to be digitally certified for real-world flight, and the resulting platform is expected to be the first system developed this way.
A ‘Needed Mechanism’
Under the contract, Istari will digitize lifecycles for the drone’s development, evaluation, design review, and final airworthiness certification.
This approach will construct digital versions of different US Department of Defense processes used in aircraft development for the first time.
Istari will also work with an aerospace company that will adapt existing aircraft models to Istari’s purely digital workflow, validating a cost-effective and rapid process that could be applied in future aerospace projects.
“The United States Air Force is leading the charge on digital transformation in defense,” Istar Digital CEO and Founder Dr. Will Roper stated.
“Certification is the next step to increase digital engineering rigor and transform the industry: Flyer Øne is the needed mechanism – the Kitty Hawk moment.”
Applying Industry 4.0
Istari will introduce Industry 4.0, a principle promoting manufacturing practices that have “revolutionized” other industries.
Industry 4.0 practices are currently used in Formula 1, where it aids race teams in designing more than 30,000 digital versions of cars each season in a 15-minute process average per car.
“Digital engineering will not revolutionize aerospace overnight, nor make mistakes magically disappear,” Roper explained.
“But industries, from Formula 1 racing to medical devices, keep demonstrating amazing digital transformations. It’s time for aerospace to push the boundaries of its digital possibilities.”