Cessna Automates Customer Aircraft Configuration

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Cessna said this month it is developing a proprietary, interactive, 3-D aircraft specification software system combining engineering data with customer configuration options to provide real-time visualization of proposed changes to the customer, as well as cost and weight changes to the aircraft. Working in cooperation with Anark Corporation, a leading 3-D application solution provider, Cessna plans to launch the new system by the end of the year. It will be available first at Cessna’s customer spec centers in Wichita and in its new Farnborough office, and then have portable applications soon after. “Digital, 3-D systems for basic product specification applications are not new, but most of the current systems on the Internet -- particularly the auto spec tools – are really just digital brochures that are fairly static in what they can do for the customer,” said Cynthia Halsey, vice president of interior design, engineering and development. “The Cessna system will be 100 percent real time and will provide all the information a customer needs to make an informed decision about outfitting an aircraft.”

According to Cessna, digital brochures offer a relatively small number of configurations or options. Aircraft configurations can take hours to complete due to the complexity of the system choices and options available. The company says that its new aircraft specification system, while taking digital configuration to a new level, will greatly simplify the configuration process, allowing the customer to see in real time how choices will look and interact with each other in the cabin. Avionics can be changed instantly and running totals on both option prices with associated weights are presented in real time. That's probably the most important feature.