Boeing is a world leader in the aerospace industry and a largest manufacturer of commercial jetliners and military aircraft. Boeing uses HPC modeling and simulation to remain a leader in an increasingly competitive global market. Receiving a grant from the Department of Energy’s Innovative and Novel Computational Impact on Theory and Experiment (INCITE) competition, Boeing partnered with Oak Ridge National Laboratory to undertake a large-scale computational science project aimed at helping the company build a better airplane.
Through the INCITE program, Boeing scientists and engineers examined ways to improve aircraft performance. Using Oak Ridge supercomputers, Boeing modeled aeroelasticity (the effect of aerodynamic loads on airplane structures) and the effect of new, lighter composites on wing design and performance. The simulation exercise helped the company design a more efficient, stable aircraft wing that improves lift, reduces drag and improves fuel consumption. Additionally, the HPC modeling exercise allowed Boeing to reduce the number of wing designs for the new 787 Dreamliner to seven—a tremendous cost savings. To put that number in context, designing the Boeing 767 in the 1980s required the company to build and to test 77 different wings. Summarizing the benefits of HPC, Doug Ball, chief engineer for Boeing’s Enabling Technology and Research Unit said, “Our work with supercomputers allows us to get a better product out the door faster, which makes us more competitive—it’s as simple as that.”