3D Scanning of Aircraft Delivers a Virtual Representation for Interior Design

The role of engineering services is imperative in most industries and 3D engineering services providers have been assigned to do more number of specific and challenging projects. For one such project, Creaform’s 3D Engineering Services Division was approached by General Dynamics’ subsidiary Jet Aviation AG to create a 3D model of the interior of a Boeing 737-800 aircraft (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Jet Aviation AG approached Creaform’s 3D Engineering Services to 3D model the interior of an empty Boeing 737-800 aircraft.

Obtaining a virtual representation of the interior was the objective of the project so that Jet Aviation engineers will experience minimum interference while installing the interior to be designed and manufactured by the company in the actual aircraft. Moreover, the uncertainty or de-risking in a project can be avoided by determining potential interference areas well ahead of schedule and reducing cost-intensive design iterations. It also leads to improved Context Management.

Creaform’s 3D Engineering Services

Jet Aviation contracted Creaform’s 3D Engineering Services Division to scan the cargo and cabin area of a Boeing 737-800 aircraft, which was wheeled in a hanger and lifted on jacks for a period of three weeks. The hoisting kept the plane static during the scanning period, thereby allowing reliable day-to-day- data acquisition. The systems and structure of the plane were exposed by stripping the interior form its floorboards and insulation for scanning (Figure 2).

The interior of the aircraft was then digitalized using MetraSCAN 3D optical CMM 3D scanners with C-Track sensors, a Leica long-range scanner, HandySCAN 3D scanners, and a system for the photogrammetry part. After data acquisition and compilation, the results were processed to reconstruct a CAD model at Creaform’s Computer-Assisted Design department based in Canada (Figure 2). While reconstructing the CAD model, Creaform sent data to Jet Aviation to assess and validate the work in parallel.

Figure 2. Data processing and 3D model reconstruction

Reconstruction of Aircraft’s Interior

Creaform designers used CATIA V5 software for reconstruction of the interior of the aircraft, including different components of the aircraft’s structure, such as frames, floor beams and plates, mechanisms, and different types of wiring and piping. Solid models of plane elements were reconstructed using digital files. It is possible to section these solid models and build planes or surfaces directly on top of them.

For components having continuous sections, solid models were created either as a scanned section following a trajectory or as an extruded section following a direction. For non-continuous components, the objects were divided into basic pieces, which could be redefined using simple geometric functions. Surface models were used to recreate objects having intricate shapes. This was followed by thickening of the surface models into solid models.

The accuracy level needed for this reconstruction allowed Creaform to reuse reconstructed components in various places. Creaform assembled all reconstruction files to generate a 3D model of the aircraft’s interior and sent it to Jet Aviation. Using this virtual 3D representation, Jet Aviation designed, produced, and assembled the interior furnishings of the aircraft (Figure 3). This collaborative work between Creaform and Jet Aviation to construct and assess the model extended for a period of 4 -5 months.

Figure 3. Jet Aviation designed, produced, and assembled the interior furnishings of the aircraft with the help of the virtual representation of the interior.


Jet Aviation’s Manager of Completions Engineering Structures, Andy Yznaga was pleased with the result of this 3D scan project. Creaform’s staffs, both in Canada and France, showed a high level of professionalism and expertise. As Jet Aviation has made heavy investment in 3D capabilities to construct interior, Creaform’s technologies will support Jet Aviation to harvest benefits from its 3D tool investments. In addition, the reliable data provided by Creaform reduced the technical risks and served as reliable alternatives to having access to the real aircraft.

About Creaform Inc

Creaform is a worldwide leader in 3D optical measurement technologies and products. The range of products include portable 3D scanners Portable coordinate measuring machine (CMM), robot-mounted optical CMM scanners, optical coordinate measuring systems, handyscan 3D laser scanners, pipeline integrity assessment, etc.

Creaform serves more than 2000 clients, including BMW, Rolls Royce, Cessna, Boeing, GE, Renault, Toyota, amongst others. The company has offices all around the world in all major territories.

Creaform’s mission is to develop, manufacture and market cutting edge portable 3D measurement and analysis technologies that increase productivity. Through its expertise and the passion and commitment of its employees, Creaform helps companies from the manufacturing industry to seamlessly create, simulate, verify, and collaborate in 3D, significantly enhancing their turnaround times and profitability.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Creaform Inc.

For more information on this source, please visit Creaform Inc.


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