Sunday, September 26, 2021
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PARACHUTES, computer program for the fast simulation of parachute-payload system

PARACHUTES is a computer program for the fast simulation of parachute-payload systems developed by CIMNE. The solution methodology focuses mainly on gliding PARACHUTES and is designed to produce aerodynamic, structural and trajectory data with minimal computational requirements. This makes PARACHUTES a handy tool that can help developers improve design and testing procedures while cutting analysis time and cost.


Enrique Ortega, researcher at CIMNE and co-developer of PARACHUTES, gives us an overview about this new software:

-In your opinion, what does this software contribute to the parachute industry?

-Firstly, it is important to mention that although the use of numerical simulation in the design and analysis of PARACHUTES has grown over the last decades, the complexity of the physical phenomena involved and the cost of the numerical solutions have made them scarcely employed by manufacturers.

In 2009 a student of aeronautics of the ESEIAAT-UPC, who at that time was collaborating with us in the development of the program, conducted a survey in which fifteen worldwide parachute manufacturers were asked about the use of computational tools in the design cycle. Surprisingly, none of the companies which provided feedback declared using computer simulation: they only used CAD programs for geometry modelling.

Taking all these aspects into account, PARACHUTES was designed to achieve a satisfactory balance between accuracy and cost, as well as robustness and ease of use. What's more, high-fidelity models and complex algorithms can only be afforded by huge companies or research centers. Hence, we may say that the main contribution of our work with PARACHUTES is to provide small and mid-size companies and designers with a tool that can assist them in the design and analysis process, and that is also affordable in terms of computational cost and hardware requirements.

As a matter of fact, the development of PARACHUTES has been mostly carried out in collaboration with a local parachute manufacturer (CIMSA Ingeniería en Sistemas), and thus most of the real needs and constraints found in practice have been accounted for. Finally, I would like to highlight that although PARACHUTES has been especially designed for parachute simulation, it can also be applied to other fields, such as sails and inflatable civil structures. We are currently working on inflatable structures in cooperation with BuildAir, in order to customize the program to meet their simulation needs.  

-This software is an example of collaboration between the research center and the industry. Why is technology transfer important?

-It is important because without this transfer support it would be very difficult for researchers to go a step forward and transform their work into something useful for the community. To achieve this, technology transfer plays a key role. Obviously, the final outcome will depend largely on the interest of private and/or public specialized companies, but in my opinion we gain half the way if our work is properly focused on real and practical needs.      

Avantages of PARACHUTES

  • For given environmental and initial flight conditions, PARACHUTES simulates the unsteady aeroelastic behavior of parachute-payload systems and provides a complete set of data suitable for design and testing.
  • PARACHUTES also allows analyzing user-defined maneuvers and testing automatic control systems.
  • The solution in PARACHUTES is obtained by two coupled unsteady calculation modules. The aerodynamics is solved by a cost-effective low-order panel method and a robust explicit finite-element technique is used for the structure.
  • PARACHUTES is integrated into the pre and post-processor GiD. This makes it easier for users with basic training in computational mechanics to setup the problem, run the simulation and analyze the results.
  • The calculation modules in PARACHUTES can also be used separately to carry out specific structural and aerodynamic analyses in the same program environment.
  • PARACHUTES can be customized to meet users' specific needs.


  • Developers: Dr. Enrique Ortega (CIMNE) and Dr. Roberto Flores (CIMNE).
  • With the support of: David de la Torre Sangrà (ESEIAAT-UPC) and Dr. Jordi Pons-Prats (CIMNE).