The aerospace industry deals with highly complex products that have data creation, management and curation requirements that span hundreds of collaborating organisations over a 50-year lifecycle. Partners on a product team need to collectively manage thousands of inter-related processes and this leads the industry to expend considerable time and effort in the access, transmission, control, translation and sharing of data.

The primary focus of the aerospace activity is the development and deployment of existing and emerging Grid technologies and concepts to enhance the collaborative engineering of sophisticated products. The improvement in the ability to handle complex problems is not delivered simply through the connectivity that Grid offers, but in the deployment of middleware and advanced ontology-based techniques to radically improve the efficiency of the data exchange between applications and between organisations.

Services deployed across company and national borders

The research programme in the aerospace application sector is built around a use-case selected from many possible alternatives in the product lifecycle. We have chosen to simulate the multi-disciplinary collaborative configuration design of a low-noise, high-lift landing system. The scenario is typical of sub-system design problems in the context of, say, future-concept, unmanned cargo vehicles that require an ability to use airfields in noise-sensitive locations. However, it is important to note that this is a 'model problem' designed to drive a research programme that is focussed on the development and deployment of Grid technology. The scenario has therefore been built and developed to stress the aggregation of distributed capabilities operating across organisational boundaries.

The aerospace activity is focused on the creation of a collaborative environment to enable the improvement of a product using design optimisation techniques which access physical modelling capabilities that are provided by each partner. This will enable the partners to provide high fidelity engineering analysis services to the Virtual Organisation without exposing any sensitive IP in a secure, managed, auditable and accountable environment.