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Terrafugia Uses Dassault Systèmes to Create Street-Legal Airplane


LOWELL, Mass. – Dassault Systèmes (DS) (Euronext Paris: #13065, DSY.PA), a world leader in 3D and Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) solutions, today announced that its CATIA brand has been chosen by Terrafugia, creators of the revolutionary Transition® Roadable Aircraft, for 3D composite and finite-element modeling. Terrafugia will use CATIA Analysis and CATIA Composites Design (CPD) solutions to design and develop its beta prototype, with delivery expected in 2011.

After Terrafugia completed a successful Proof of Concept for the first version of its Transition Roadable Aircraft in early June, the design team began planning the vehicle’s second iteration. Having spent several years developing the initial Transition prototype, Terrafugia identified multiple ways in which they wanted to adjust the original design, including experimenting with alternate materials and sizing for the wings. In order to analyze the way different materials would bend or move under various conditions, the company required a solution with advanced 3D composite ply-modeling, dedicated part-modeling and material behavior simulation capabilities.

RAND North America, a value-added reseller of Dassault Systèmes PLM solutions and 2007 Dassault Systèmes North American Business Partner of the Year, recommended that Terrafugia adopt CATIA for its composite modeling needs. RAND chose CATIA’s composite solutions for their exacting technical features, which would help Terrafugia correct problems like wrinkles and bridges in the very first stages of design by visualizing ply characteristics and fiber behavior. They also emphasized CATIA’s value as an independent finite-element analysis (FEA) tool, thereby eliminating the need for a separate FEA investment.

Impressed by its success with Dassault Systemes’ SolidWorks 3D design suite, which it began using in March 2009, Terrafugia enthusiastically adopted CATIA Analysis and CATIA CPD as composite-focused complements to its existing SolidWorks infrastructure. According to Ben Zelnick, engineer at Terrafugia: “CATIA is a great complement to our SolidWorks solution. Being able to have a full digital model of a ply-by-ply layout will allow us to conduct accurate structural analyses, which is invaluable in reducing the weight of the Transition. In fact, we recently correlated an analysis of a CATIA model of a portion of the structure closely to a sample tested in our facility.”

Jacques Leveillé-Nizerolle, CEO, CATIA, Dassault Systèmes added: “We are pleased that DS SolidWorks’ design-centric customers can now benefit from CATIA’s leading composites virtual design and analysis applications to successfully meet their composites needs. This will complement CATIA’s full PLM strategy which is based on delivering a complete end-to-end PLM composites solution on a single platform, from design to simulation and manufacturing.”

For the upcoming second prototype, Terrafugia’s design team is using CATIA Analysis to create preliminary design simulations rapidly, easily and within a familiar CAD environment. The solution allows the team to optimize its designs based on product performance specifications and to quickly make updates after real-world testing. Moreover, the company is using CATIA CPD to build and test reinforcement spars on the prototype’s structural panels. CATIA CPD gives Terrafugia the ability to verify whether it can feasibly produce what is designed and the ability to perform simulation directly in the same environment.

The collaboration between Dassault Systèmes and RAND North America is representative of a long-standing, strong and active association between the two companies. Kendall Pond, vice president, Dassault Systèmes and liaison for its partnership with Terrafugia, discussed the role of RAND in bringing the CATIA deployment to fruition: “RAND has done a great job of getting Terrafugia up to speed on how to use CATIA very quickly and efficiently. RAND has been integral in helping us build a true relationship with Terrafugia.”

The Transition Roadable Aircraft can cruise up to 450 miles at 115+ mph, take off and land at local airports, drive at highway speeds on any road and fit in a normal suburban garage space. The two-seat vehicle has front wheel drive on the road and a propeller for flight, transforming from plane to car in thirty seconds. Both modes are powered by unleaded automobile gasoline. By giving pilots a convenient ground transportation option, the Transition reduces the cost, inconvenience and weather sensitivity of personal aviation.

For more information, images and videos of the “street-legal airplane,” please visit:

About Terrafugia

Terrafugia was founded in 2006 by award-winning MIT-trained aeronautical engineers and MBA’s – who also happen to be passionate private pilots. The company’s mission is to provide innovative solutions to the challenges facing personal aviation. The result: the Transition® Roadable Aircraft. Taking advantage of new FAA regulations in the Light Sport Aircraft category, Terrafugia developed the Transition® to provide pilots the convenience of a dual-purpose vehicle. Its unique design allows the Transition® to fold its wings and drive on any surface road with a modern personal airplane platform. Once at the airport, the wings extend and the aircraft is ready for take-off. Both folding and extending the wings is done from inside the cockpit. The Transition® addresses head-on the issues private and sports pilots face: cost, weather sensitivity, high overall door-to-door travel time and a lack of mobility at destination. In July of 2008 Terrafugia returned to EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, WI with a completed Proof of Concept Transition® vehicle. Powered testing of the Proof of Concept has been ongoing during the second half of 2008. Construction, testing and certification of the Production Prototype will follow completion of the Proof of Concept’s testing program. First customer delivery of a Transition® Roadable Aircraft is expected to occur in 2011. To date, Terrafugia remains privately funded by a sophisticated group of accredited individual investors. The company is based just outside of Boston in Woburn, Massachusetts, USA.
About Dassault Systèmes

As a world leader in 3D and Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) solutions, Dassault Systèmes brings value to more than 115,000 customers in 80 countries. A pioneer in the 3D software market since 1981, Dassault Systèmes develops and markets PLM application software and services that support industrial processes and provide a 3D vision of the entire lifecycle of products from conception to maintenance to recycling. The Dassault Systèmes portfolio consists of CATIA for designing the virtual product - SolidWorks for 3D mechanical design - DELMIA for virtual production - SIMULIA for virtual testing - ENOVIA for global collaborative lifecycle management, and 3DVIA for online 3D lifelike experiences. Dassault Systèmes’ shares are listed on Euronext Paris (#13065, DSY.PA) and Dassault Systèmes’ ADRs may be traded on the US Over-The-Counter (OTC) market (DASTY). For more information, visit

CATIA, DELMIA, ENOVIA, SIMULIA, SolidWorks and 3D VIA are registered trademarks of Dassault Systèmes or its subsidiaries in the US and/or other countries.


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