Last month I had a chance to participate in the SAE International Board of Directors meeting in Luzern, Switzerland. The trip included visits with engineering team and company leadership at Pilatus Aircraft and RUAG.
The day before our visit, Pilatus had just successfully completed the first test flight of their first ever business jet, the PC-24 “Super Versatile Jet”, which was a great success. They shared the importance of computational engineering, modeling, and simulation, in the successful design of the aircraft. At TECAT, our technology was born out of Dr. Doug Baker’s simulation work on advanced engine designs. He also had engines running on their first “test flights”, and he needed a small, accurate, and high data rate torque sensor in order to validate that the models, and resulting design decisions, were valid. Finding none on the market he invented his own.
RUAG, a roughly $2B enterprise with 8,000 employees worldwide, does work in the areas of Aviation, airframes, space, ammunition and defense. We visited the space manufacturing area making large rocket parts for NASA and the European space agency, airframe manufacturing and assembly, and their wind tunnel. In the wind tunnel operations RUAG does testing for aircraft, automotive, and motorsports. Some of the models they test include over 1,100 measurement points for torque, force, pressure, and other parameters. Years ago the test engineers at RUAG could not find sensor “blocks” with the capabilities needed for their testing, so like Dr. Baker, they created their own and now sell them to other wind tunnel test facilities around the world. Similarly, they have invented high speed, high power density hydraulic motors that they place in their models in order to have rotating propellers on the models being tested.
Necessity is indeed the mother of invention!