The relationship between BIM, Digital Twin and aviation

Possible impact of digitized solutions on the UTM system

25. 07. 2022.


In a previous article, we already mentioned the most important function of BIM (Building Information Modeling) and a possible way of using it. Now we are going to examine the difference between the BIM and Digital Twin definitions, and we will look for points of connection regarding their possible application in aviation.


BIM was created as a development of the construction industry, as a digitized process result of the design phases, which puts the construction or even operation processes on a new foundation. The BIM model is therefore not only a 3D geospatial solution for a 2D design phase, but ideally a digitized process management tool consisting of several software components and operating along predetermined goals, supporting the entire design phase and decision-making. With this procedure, detailed, complicated tasks can be visualized digitally, sliced ​​in 3D, and different work processes can be planned very precisely, with the simultaneous display of several work phases.


The BIM model enables different plans (e.g.: pipelines, walls, electric cable, financial and time plans) to be added and displayed together, and then using these, the costs and descriptions related to the progress of the construction can be shown with a complex database, while its continuous development different database integrations can also be solved. Furthermore, the resulting BIM plan can be equipped with cost- and time-based design phases, which can be used to create even larger projects with a high level of design certainty.


In addition, the resulting 3D model can be freely sliced ​​and transformed into a top-view or side-view 2D surface for easier transparency or planning. With the help of BIM, the construction phase can be specified, thanks to the modular construction elements in many projects, and the installation status of individual construction modules can be easily monitored using QR codes. In the case of installation, it is sufficient to scan the building element with a phone, and in the case of a BIM plan, the installation can already be seen.


With the help of the QR code, the given building element can already appear in the digital space, so is it already a Digital Twin?


In part, it can be considered as such, but here the two concepts and methods of use are separated. BIM is a tool used to design and support the construction of buildings and equipment that do not usually exist, whereas Digital Twin is a tool for the already existing object, building, environment, etc. digitized version, on which simulations can be performed using large amounts of even real-time data. Digital Twins, for example, are suitable for modeling different conceptual situations, which can be used to make urban road transport much more efficient, of course with adequate infrastructure and the amount of data essential for simulation. By using live data, with simulations run thousands or tens of thousands of times, it can be ensured that the traffic participants can drive as efficiently as possible with the most optimal lamp change. With the help of intelligent cameras and sensor data, these can always be adapted to the different needs of the traffic. Accidents, renovation works, the effects of vehicles using distinctive markings on traffic and their optimal solution can be simulated.


How can aviation be related to BIM and the Digital Twin?


Previous proposals and system reviews revealed that air transport is fundamentally outdated and uses non-scalable systems. UTM (and hence eATM – European Air Traffic Management) will be the basis of this operation, ensuring digitized, automatic, and autonomous operation. In the case of UTM, many factors must be considered for safe operations: low-altitude meteorology, interference, terrain conditions, the emergence of autonomous UAS/VTOLs.

In the future, the efficient use of air space for new aircraft, vehicles and existing aircraft can be provided by a display interface similar to BIM and a simulation environment similar to Digital Twin. At the moment, there is no unified standard, created UI (User Interface), or aerial “KRESZ” that also ensures autonomous operation, but we consider it worthwhile to examine and monitor the BIM and Digital Twin solutions, and to use their essential functions in the case of the UTM modules to be developed.


Author: Benjamin Holló, eNET’a UAS/UTM expert colleague