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Dassault to build aerospace-factory Sims

Gaming engines to model complex aviation projects

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Graphic engines used in the latest videogames are set to be see more and more service in the French aerospace industry, according to reports.

French aviation and techweapon firm Dassault Systemes is especially keen on the idea, according to its R&D veep Pascal Lecland.

"We want more and more realistic simulations and we want to simulate everything including the supply chain. [Airbus and Boeing's] problems were with the supply chain," he said, speaking to Flight International this week.

Dassault has already bought the software company Virtools, which builds products used by the gaming industry - in particular by another France-based globocorp, Ubisoft. Virtools also makes developer kit for the Sony PSP, among other things.

Dassault, according to Flight, doesn't want to simulate aircraft performance so much as manufacturing processes. The game engines will be used to create a full simulation of building and maintaining a plane, missile or whatever through its entire lifecycle.

Such a project can involve parts and exotic materials from all over the world, sometimes travelling by unusual and limited channels such as special transport aircraft or unique barges. Then, unforeseen bottlenecks in assembly can paralyse the whole complicated dance, leaving thousands of workers standing idle and expensive supplies sitting in storage and hurting company accounts. This sort of thing happened with a vengeance in the Airbus A380 superjumbo programme, for instance, with wiring difficulties stalling the entire Europe-spanning production line and damaging sales (and prices) for years.

In other words, Dassault will be making something a lot more like The Sims than Flight Simulator. It seems that the necessary processing grunt will be substantial, calling for hefty clusters and grids.

There's no detail on just which new Dassault projects will be gamed through in advance, however. Indeed, there's a slight whiff here of marketing for the simulation developer tools themselves, which Dassault/Virtools would like to sell to as many other companies as possible.

Read the Flight story here. ®

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