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Techniques for Aircraft Configuration Optimization

Techniques for Aircraft Configuration Optimization

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Published by allanep
this explains a notion in aircraft optimization and design
this explains a notion in aircraft optimization and design

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Published by: allanep on Sep 17, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Techniques for Aircraft ConfigurationOptimization
This section is an overview of the design process - a more philosophical discussion before plunging into the details of compressibility drag prediction, high-lift systems, etc..The specific approach to the design problem used here will be discussed later, but nowwe will step back and discuss the big picture of aircraft design optimization.
You may have heard that a particular new airplane was designed on the computer. Justwhat this means and what can or cannot be computed-aided is not obvious and whiledesign and analysis methods are being computerized to a greater degree than was possible earlier, there are great practical difficulties in turning the design task entirelyover to the computers.The design process has, historically, ranged from sketches on napkins (Fig. 1) to trial,error, and natural selection (Fig. 2), to sophisticated computer-aided design programs(Fig. 3).
 Figure 1. Aircraft concepts can start with very rough sketches, as did the human powered airplane, the Gossamer Condor 
 Figure 2. Aircraft Design By Trial and Error  Figure 3. Computer-Aided Design of Aircraft 
Because the process is so complex, involving hundreds or thousands of computer  programs, many people at many locations, it is difficult to manage and companies arecontinuing to try to improve on the strategy. In the early days of airplane design, peopledid not do much computation. The design teams tended to be small, managed by a singleChief Designer who knew about all of the design details and could make all of theimportant decisions. Modern design projects are often so complex that the problem has to be decomposed and each part of the problem tackled by a different team. The way in
which these teams should work together is still being debated by managers andresearchers.The goal of these processes, whatever form they take, is to design what is, in some sense,the best airplane. To do this requires that we address three basic issues:1. What do we mean by best?2. How can we estimate the characteristics of designs so we can compare two designs in aquantitative way?3. How do we choose the design variables which yield an optimum?The first of these questions is perhaps the most important one, for if we don't know whatwe are trying to achieve, or if we select the wrong goal, it doesn't matter how good theanalysis method may be, nor how efficient is our optimization procedure. Nevertheless,this question is often not given sufficient attention in many optimization studies.
Defining the Objective
If we were to examine advertisements for aircraft it might seem that the definition of the best aircraft is very simple. Madison Ave. Aircraft Company sells the fastest, mostefficient, quietest, most inexpensive airplane with the shortest field length. Unfortunatelysuch an airplane cannot exist. As Professor Bryson puts it, "You can only make one thing best at a time." The most inexpensive airplane would surely not be the fastest; the mostefficient would not be the most comfortable. Similarly, the best aerodynamic design israther different from the best structural design, so that the best overall airplane is alwaysa compromise in some sense (see Fig 4.). The compromise can be made in a rational wayif the right measure of performance is used. Structural weight and lift to drag ratio, for example, become parts of a larger equation. The left hand side of this equation is termedthe figure of merit or objective and depends on the intended application for the aircraft.

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