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DarkAero Chooses Onshape For Experimental Aircraft Design

Aviation Startup Cites Cloud CAD’s Multi-Part 3D Modeling And 'Trouble-Free' Data Management For Streamlining Design Process

DarkAero, a Wisconsin startup specializing in aerospace composite products and high-performance experimental kit aircraft, has chosen Onshape as its primary CAD system. The company is currently developing the DarkAero 1, a two-seat carbon-fiber aircraft designed to be faster, lighter and more fuel-efficient than current kit aircraft available today.

The FAA certifies kit aircraft for safety and airworthiness, classifying them in their experimental category. Pilots building experimental aircraft devote 1,000 to 2,000 man hours assembling these kits. The most popular kit airplanes on the market are around 200 miles per hour maximum cruise speed and have a 1,000 mile range tops,” says DarkAero CEO Ryley Karl. “For the DarkAero 1, we’re targeting a maximum cruise speed of 275 miles per hour and a range of over 1,500 miles depending on your payload and cruise speed. Onshape is helping us design for a higher level of performance.”

“As an aerospace engineer, I’ve worked with NX, Pro/E, and SOLIDWORKS in my career. I quickly realized the advantage Onshape provides for modeling aircraft. For top-down design, the Multi-Part Part Studio felt much easier and more efficient to me,” he adds. “It makes sense to simultaneously work on the plane’s shell, ribs and structure.”

In Onshape’s Multi-Part Part Studio, all parts related to one another are designed together in one place, instead of the traditional file-based CAD approach of bouncing back and forth between individual part files. By defining common features and inter-part relationships in one place, engineers can ensure that the results of their design changes are predictable and robust. “DarkAero is not only striving to build faster and more fuel-efficient planes, they’re also aiming to deliver sleek aesthetics – like a sports car in the sky,” says Onshape co-founder John McEleney. “We’re proud that Onshape is playing a role in helping DarkAero push the limits of recreational aviation.”

Karl adds that Onshape’s real-time data management – which enables every member of a team to instantly see each other’s design changes made from anywhere – was another key reason DarkAero decided to choose the cloud CAD system. “When I was using SOLIDWORKS, it was especially frustrating to manage part files. Even when you know what you’re doing, there always seems to be issues when you update or change something,” he recalls. “Your parts would fail if you didn’t rename them correctly. Onshape has a much more streamlined and trouble-free approach. Using Onshape has just been a no-brainer for us.”

The first DarkAero 1 prototype is slated to debut at the 2019 Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) AirVenture Show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin next July.

(Source: DarkAero news release)

FMI: DarkAero.com

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