Aircraft design software is a software product which has been specifically developed for use in aircraft design. Planes large and small can be designed with this software, and the software can include an assortment of powerful tools which are intended to aid the designer. Several commercial products are available, along with freeware versions intended for use by students and hobbyists. Some aerospace companies have even developed their own aircraft design software to meet the needs of particular projects.
This software is part of a larger family of computer assisted design (CAD), also known as computer aided design, products. These products allow people to use computers to create design schematics, three dimensional models, and other tools which will help them assemble a design. Using such software can create a great deal of flexibility for a designer, in contrast with more traditional design methods, which involve the creation of paper mockups and real world models. Engineers, architects, and many other designers of a wide range of products all take advantage of CAD software and the extensions which can be added to increase functionality, such as a component which will communicate with a fabricator to build objects in real life to the specifications of the software program.
One feature which can be included in aircraft design software is a physics engine which will explore the properties of the proposed aircraft. This can be used to identify problems, to run calculations, and to simulate real world situations to determine whether or not the design will actually be functional. Aircraft design software can also be used to run a wide variety of calculations involving the estimated weight of the aircraft, the max fully-laden weight, and so forth.
While most programs can generate blueprints and schematics, some aircraft design software can take things a step further. Specialty products can directly design machining parts for building the aircraft being designed with the software. The software can also design and lay out a manufacturing facility, based on the needs of the aircraft, and designed to maximize efficiency.
In addition to being used to design new aircraft, aircraft design software can be utilized when renovations or overhauls are planned. The software is also used by people who work with simulators to design custom aircraft to play with. Enthusiasts may enjoy the opportunity to enjoy the aviation field vicariously, even if their aircraft will never be produced in the real world. Such software can also be used in simulations of crashes, mechanical failures, and other problems, to explore how and why things went wrong.