Airbus Helicopters

Simcenter Amesim and Simcenter Engineering help manufacturer reduce fuel system design cycle by a year


  • Reduce development cycle, costs and risks
  • Improve systems integration
  • Enhance flight simulators’ fidelity prior to tests
  • Promote tool and model consistency
  • Avoid late delivery penalties


  • Predict behavior of hydraulic and fuel systems
  • Enable hybrid simulation mixing real and virtual components
  • Use a unique model throughout the engineering process
  • Establish collaboration between system design and integration specialists


  • Reduced fuel system design cycle by a year and integration period by nine months
  • Enhanced model management and traceability
  • Shortened hydraulic system optimization cycle by 3X
  • Decreased hydraulic system prototype costs by 4X
Discover Simcenter Amesim >

“The first prototype that we manufacture is to fine-tune the Simcenter Amesim model. The system optimization is performed virtually. That leads to the creation of a new prototype that is very close to optimizing performance.”

Thibaut Marger

“Using thermal, hydraulic, mechanical and fuel equipment capabilities of Simcenter Amesim, we can create a model that enables us to accurately predict the fuel system’s behavior.”

Stéphane Amerio
Simulation Engineer
Airbus Helicopters

In 1993, NHIndustries, a joint venture between Airbus, Leonardo Helicopters and Fokker Aerostructures, started to design the NH90, a heavy military helicopter. Thirteen years later, it entered into service.
Today, the competition has become so fierce that helicopter manufacturers usually have no more than four years to develop their most sophisticated models.
The pace of technological change has markedly increased. As a result, manufacturers must make the right choices when designing increasingly complex systems.

They have to yearvalidate systems integration earlier in the development process by applying a collaborative modeling approach throughout the design cycle.

Investing in simulation

Airbus Helicopters, part of the Airbus Group, is Europe‘s leading fully integrated aeronautical company, known for its high-performing, cost-effective, safe and comfortable helicopters, such as the H160.
To maintain its leadership position, the company has invested in virtual testing to meet many needs along the development cycle, such as rapid prototyping, desktop simulation, real-time pilot-in-the loop simulation, test rig development and training solutions.

Airbus Helicopters’ simulation policy stipulates that, if possible, a unique model should be used for each component throughout the V-cycle.

To apply this simulation approach to physical system modeling, Airbus Helicopters needed a tool that was highly predictable and could be used to easily integrate models into the real-time environment. The company found such a tool in Simcenter Amesim™ software from product lifecycle management (PLM) specialist Siemens Digital Industries Software.

Figure 1: The pilot project is aimed at validating the simulation approach in the H160 in order to reduce the fuel system test cycles by a factor of two for the next helicopter models

Reducing hydraulic system prototype costs

Airbus Helicopters has used Simcenter Amesim for hydraulic and air conditioning system simulation since 2007. In 2009, the company extended the use of Simcenter Amesim to thermo-hydraulic component and system modeling.
Prior to adopting Simcenter Amesim, specialists in the hydraulic and flight controls department at Airbus Helicopters were only able to obtain a quasi-static representation of the hydraulic system.

The majority of parameters were determined during the prototype testing phase. Moreover, these hydraulics models were incompatible with a broader co-simulation environment.

To take into account the behavior of the hydraulic circuit in real-time simulation, Airbus Helicopters previously built another model using a specification that a hydraulics specialist had prepared for a supplier

“Simcenter Amesim enabled integration specialists to create easily understandable models that can be shared within our organization.

The unique model can be adapted to our analysis goal, and can be used for system design, controls validation, simulators and test rigs.”


Reducing flight test hours by half

Following the successful use of Simcenter Amesim for hydraulic system design and validation, the company decided to launch a benchmark project aimed at extending this simulation approach to the fuel system.

The integration of the fuel system into the H160 had been mainly validated during intensive test rig sessions and flight tests.

Even though the H160 was nearing entry into service, the goal of this pilot project was to validate this simulation approach for future helicopter models, and enable Airbus Helicopters to reduce the fuel system test cycles by a factor of two.

“I provide information to the design office in order to fine-tune the simulation model and continuously improve our way of working,”
says Nicolas Certain, flight test engineer at Airbus Helicopters. “Not only does simulation enable us to reduce test cycles, it also allows us to focus on major issues related to the flight performance.”

Risorse Correlate

Simcenter Amesim – Assessing aircraft fuel system in operations

Watch Video >

How to… Assess aircraft cabin cooling sizing with Simcenter Amesim

IT_Whitepaper_Come Dimensionare il sistema ECS velivolo_Blog
Download white paper >