ORACLE TEAM USA
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Airbus, as Official Innovation Partner of ORACLE TEAM USA, and the defending champion of the America’s Cup, passed a key...read more
The power of teamwork
Airbus has forged a technology partnership with ORACLE TEAM USA as this championship sailing squad prepares to defend its title in the 2017 competition for America’s Cup – which is the oldest international sporting trophy of the modern era (born in 1851), and one of the most difficult to win.
As Official Innovation Partner of ORACLE TEAM USA, Airbus is sharing the know-how of its experts in areas such as aerodynamics, instrumentation, simulation, composites, structures, hydraulics and data analysis; while simultaneously benefiting from the innovative approach of a world leader in sailing.
By taking on a project of this magnitude that combines extreme technology and sports, Airbus is stretching its competencies and further boosting the company’s agility. And since there are so many similarities between the America’s Cup yacht and Airbus’ modern jetliners, each of the two partners benefit from an excellent platform on which to learn and grow.
Airbus, Official Innovation Partner of ORACLE TEAM USA for the 2017 America’s Cup
Wind Data Mapping (02:24)13 Apr 2017
Innovating to the finish line
For more than 160 years, the America’s Cup competition has shown that, while necessary, funding is not the primary factor in winning. This is why a much higher priority is put on design technology and engineering, which are two areas at which Airbus excels.
ORACLE TEAM USA has won the last two America’s Cup competitions, in which two sailing teams – consisting of the defending champion and a challenger – go head-to-head in match races. Skipper/helmsman Jimmy Spithill led ORACLE TEAM USA in its last two America’s Cup victories, and will again “hold the reins” for the 2017 event.
In 2013, ORACLE TEAM USA successfully defended its title in the AC72 class – a wingsail-powered catamaran that “flew” above the water on hydrofoils at over 50 mph (90 kph). For the 2017 event, the team will be racing in the new AC class (close to 50 ft), which is a smaller, lighter and more finely-engineered foiling catamaran than its predecessor that is expected to reach similar speeds.
Preparing for success
Following the innovation partnership between Airbus and ORACLE TEAM USA, announced in 2014, the joint effort is now moving from the design offices to the open seas. The first in-water tests were carried out successfully in February 2015; afterward, the second phase began in May at the new team base in Bermuda, joined by Airbus engineers.
ORACLE TEAM USA is evaluating new designs and systems on its AC45S boat, a testing platform for the technology the team will use in the 2017 America’s Cup.
Commenting on the progress to date, Airbus President and CEO Fabrice Brégier said: “All at Airbus are very excited about this partnership. Our engineering teams’ enthusiasm and engagement to be a part of this project is simply overwhelming. The biggest challenge might be to bring them back working on airplanes again!”
Supporting challenger SoftBank Team Japan
Another participant in the 2017 America’s Cup competition – SoftBank Team Japan – will benefit from Airbus’ expertise as well, having licensed yacht designs from ORACLE TEAM USA that were developed in its ongoing technology partnership with the aircraft manufacturer.
Per this America’s Cup Protocol, challengers are allowed to purchase basic design packages in order to build certain components of their yacht, thus not incurring the costs of a large design team and lengthy development cycles. As a result, SoftBank Team Japan also is privy to Airbus’ knowledge in fields such as aerodynamics, instrumentation, simulation, composites, structures, hydraulics and data analysis.
In addition to the innovative designs themselves, SoftBank Team Japan skipper and CEO Dean Barker – a 20-year veteran of America’s Cup – said access to Airbus expertise has brought a new approach to the way his team handles some design questions.
SoftBank Team Japan was created in 2015. Japan has only competed for America’s Cup on three previous occasions, and the 2017 competition will mark the first time this nation has been represented since 2000.