Assessment of Aircraft Pilot Seat Performances with Digital Human Models and Virtual Prototypes
Abstract. In the aeronautic industry, some research is currently carried out to improve pilot seating and lying comfort, as well as cockpit ergonomics and accessibility. Pilots spend indeed a lot of time on their seat during a flight. If seats are uncomfortable and pilots are in a wrong posture, risks of injuries and fatigue increase a lot. But taking into account these comfort requirements for the pilot seat and the cockpit design is very challenging. In fact, the very strict aeronautics standards for certification may sometimes jeopardize initial design ambitions regarding comfort. The necessary innovations to address certification and comfort cannot rely on a classical trial-and-error approach on real prototypes with human volunteers. This way of working presents several disadvantages related to test repeatability and human subjectivity. From one real test to another, volunteers’ morphology, posture and mood may change and sometimes do not represent the range of possible occupants. In addition, as tests happen late in the development process, at a time where there are limited possibilities to improve the seat and cockpit designs, or propose radically innovative solutions, it becomes very complicated for engineers to reach their initial objectives. To avoid these issues related to real tests, OEMs and suppliers are beginning to change their development process to adopt alternative ways to iterate earlier in the conception phase. In the scope of a project on pilot cabin development, done with Dassault Aviation, Safran and ESI Group, a tool dedicated to aircraft pilot seat virtual prototyping has been developed to integrate earlier in the industrial process comfort aspects and seat integration inside the cockpit. It has been adapted from ESI’s Virtual Seat Solution already used in the automotive industry. This paper will describe an application of this virtual prototyping on industrial examples and how designers can virtually create a seat model right from the early design phases and start assessing its performances. Seating simulations of human models have been performed to evaluate static and postural comfort. Those simulations can be then extended to address, in a second step, other performances such as vibratory or thermal comfort, or static comfort for a different seat adjustment such as the reclined posture. Finally, these results have been compared to real measurements to give some insights into the predictivity of ESI Seat and Interior Solutions.