In the European Union Framework 6 programme, the large scale integrated project "Value Improvement through a Virtual Aeronautical Collaborative Enterprise" (VIVACE) (Anoymous, 2007) was initiated, with participation from large European Aerospace companies, as Airbus and Rolls Royce, medium and small sized companies, research centers, universities and software vendors.

The overall aim of VIVACE was to enable the virtual product concept in a collaborative environment (the Virtual Enterprise) through design, simulation and integration, starting from the early phases of aircraft conception. The high level objectives that the project was expected to achieve were:

  • Halve the time to market for new products with the help of advanced design, manufacturing and maintenance tools, methods and processes.

  • Increase the integration of the supply chain into a network

  • Maintain a steady and continuous reduction in travel charges through substantial cuts in operating costs.

This paper presents parts of the work done within this project based on the example of the design of the high pressure turbine of a jet engine (Wenzel, 2010).

Such a large design effort is typically shared between various partners. There exists not one partner that can impose the tool suite to be used by the virtual enterprise. Each partner uses its own design framework, which usually combines Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) and proprietary in-house developed tools. The ensuing design framework contains the expertise of the partners involved; hence there is a balance between the need to share the capability during a collaborative design and protecting the intellectual property rights of each partner's core assets. Traditionally such multi-partner collaboration is accomplished by exchanging limited design information between partners via paper or e-mail.

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