Virtual Reality Center
Thanks to the capabilities of digital simulation, it is no longer necessary to have full-scale digital mockups and demonstration aircraft. Choices made at the definition stage are validated on the first production aircraft.
To facilitate this validation, in early 2002 Dassault Aviation inaugurated the Virtual Reality Centre at its Saint Cloud facilities in order to have a full-scale visualisation of the cabin furnishings.
At first glance, the VRC looks like a cinema with a giant screen and seating for 30 people. On one side an operator controls the session using a computer with three screens, directly linked to the database being updated every day by engineers on the plateau. Using special glasses, images can be seen in 3D thanks to a “linear passive polarisation” projection system that is much more effective than the traditional superposition of blue and red visuals with appropriate glasses. The “journey” inside the digital mockup can begin!
“Make no mistake,” says Dassault Aviation VRC project leader Pascal Joyet, “this is not a video, a film comprising a sequence of predefined shots, but a real-time calculation by the computer as a function of what the engineers want to see.”
It’s impressive: the aircraft mockup can be viewed from any angle, at any distance, from a wide-angle view to a zoom on the smallest parts. Each part is colour-coded according to its function (structure, fuel, hydraulic, electric, air conditioning, etc). Is that inspection hatch accessible? Can that tube run through that area while respecting separation minima with respect to other elements? Can a pilot of this height fit comfortably in a cockpit with this configuration? The potential questions are endless.
The 3D digital mockup improves error detection by identifying possible conflicts at the design stage. Potential problems that could come up during production or maintenance are detected early. This eliminates the cost of subsequent modifications and optimises maintenance tasks at the design stage.
For the Falcon 7X, test pilots and ergonomics specialists also took advantage of the potential of the digital mockup to improve the cockpit design. A virtual dummy, programmed to imitate the behaviour of a pilot, was used to verify visibility from the cockpit and to ensure that all functionalities were accessible. The result is a better interaction between man and machine.