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42nd AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting and Exhibit AIAA 2004-1241

5 - 8 January 2004, Reno, Nevada

Considerations about Forward Fuselage Aerodynamic

Design of a Transport Aircraft
Bento Silva de Mattos Ramon Papa Luis Carlos de Castro Santos

Empresa Brasileira de Aeronáuitca SA – Embraer

Av. Brigadeiro Faria Lima, 2170
12227-901 São José dos Campos – SP – Brazil

Abstract The following test machines had the bigger vertical tail
surfaces and the engines of the B-50. The
The present work deals with technical issues Stratofreighter maximum speed was reported to be 603
concerning fuselage design. For this purpose, early km/h. Faced with urgent demand for a long-range civil
airplane designs have been used as illustrations, in transport, Boeing proposed a civil version of the
order to show more clearly the thoughts of designers, Stratofreighter, called Boeing 377 Stratocruiser. Boeing
their innovative concepts and pioneering. The built 56 Stratocruisers between 1947 and 1950. During
importance of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) the early 1960s, Aero Space Lines ballooned the
for an efficient fuselage design is addressed. Some Stratocruiser´s fuselage into a whale-like shape to carry
practical applications are shown, which were performed spacecraft sections. Nine of the variants were
with the CFD++ and FLUENT codes. A study of the assembled; some of them called “Superguppies”.
importance of the proper location of an ice probe at the Although only a small number was delivered to airlines,
forward fuselage was also performed and the results are the Boeing B-377 aircraft can be considered a
discussed. successful redesign of the B-29 bomber. This was
possible because the B-29 Superfortress had a
Introduction maximum speed of 576 km/h, which was very similar
to that of the B-377 one. However, some problems
In order to keep manufacturing costs as low as possible,
could occur if the flight envelope of the new
aircraft manufacturers adopted designs that utilize parts
configuration is quite different to the aircraft upon it
of previous configurations in the past. A good example
was based. Boeing kept using older fuselage shapes in
of this approach is the Boeing 377 Stratoliner, which
newer designs as in case of the Boeing 737 airliner,
was derived fromthe Boeing B-29 Superfortress, the
whose fuselage came from that of Boeing 707. In the
famous WWII bomber. Developed during the World
same fashion, the maritime reconnaissance Nimrod
War II the Boeing Stratofreighter (C-97) was based on
aircraft was derived from the Comet airliner, from
the B-29 strategic bomber. The key to the success of the
which it borrowed the fuselage. There are more radical
B-29, the Boeing-developed "117" airfoil, was also the
approaches like the Fairchild-Dornier 328JET twinjet,
trump card of the C-97. Designed entirely by Boeing
which had the same airframe of the 328 turboprop. In
engineers, the wings of the B-29 bomber had lower
recent times, Airbus studied innovative configurations
drag characteristics per pound of lift than any other
for an airliner able to transport 600 passengers (Fig. 1).
airfoil, better stall warning, and had the biggest and
A joined-wing configuration emerged in order to fit the
most efficient flaps then devised. With utilization of the
aircraft into existing airport gates and reduce the
B-29 wing for the C-97, use of the same four engines
induced drag. Joined Airbus A-300 fuselages should
was a natural choice: Wright Cyclones of 2,000
provide enough room to accommodate the envisaged
horsepower each. The Stratofreighter also retained the
passenger capacity and keep the manufacturing costs
landing gear, the lower fuselage and the tail unit of the
low. However, manufacturers have been designing new
B-29. Completely new was the upper fuselage, which
fuselages for their aircraft lately. Due to specific
formed a double-bubble section when mated to the
requirements of each aircraft, modern tooling
lower fuselage. The two first prototypes flew in 1944.

Copyright © 2004 by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Inc. All rights reserved.
machinery, implementation of optimization framework,
and a highly competitive environment, which requires
optimal configurations to fulfill the mission and to be
ahead of the competitors, the old approached almost

Besides the conventional role of carrying passengers,

fuselages are designed to accommodate antennas,
outsized cargo, and any sort of devices according to
what the aircraft is intended to (Fig. 2). The aircraft
fuselage is responsible for 25-50 percent of the overall
drag of most airplanes. Fuselages generate the Fig. 1 – Airbus Study for a Megaliner.
following types of drag: profile drag, compressibility
drag, and induced drag. A fuselage contributes to
induced drag primarily because its adverse effect on
wings spanload distribution. When the fuselage is
integrated into the wing (and with nacelles and the
empennage), extra drag, the so called interference drag,
is produced. Many aerospace design teams frequently
treat fuselage aerodynamic design as a matter of
secondary importance during the aircraft development
phases. Understandably, aerodynamicists prefer to
focus their efforts on wing design employing inverse or
optimization methods in order to obtain, for example,
transonic wings with minimum wave drag. Usually,
fuselage aerodynamic design is scheduled for the last Fig. 2 – Aircraft are intended to perform any sort of
stage of the development phase. At this point, time is a mission.
major issue and, as far as the multidisciplinary aspects
CFD can help designers to find out areas in the front
of fuselage aerodynamics is concerned, a less
fuselage to place ice detectors, Pitot tubes, and other
elaborated work is then performed instead. It is worthy
probes. Through careful analysis of the local flow,
of mentioning that the drag creep of a well-designed
drainpipes (Fig. 3), air antennas, and pylons can be
wing should be under 10 drag counts (C D = 0.001) at
correctly positioned in order to minimize drag.
maximum cruise condition. Drag resulting from a poor
fuselage design is likely to overcome such figure due to
small separations, shock waves, or excess wetted area.
There also is a significant impact on other aircraft
regions because disturbed airflow can contribute to
lower the efficiency of engine inlets and tail surfaces.
Separated airflow arising at wing-fuselage junction or
fuselage regions has a similar behavior to vortex
shedding from wings. Thus, the disturbed air pattern is
prone to cause earlier-than-anticipated fatigue on tail
surface structural parts. Frequently this phenomenon is
difficult to diagnose. Considering that it is desirable to
have as little drag as possible, the fuselage should be
sized and shaped accordingly. This paper addresses
important issues to be taken into account in fuselage
aerodynamic design. The importance of Computational
Fluid Dynamics (CFD) for an efficient design is
emphasized and some practical applications carried out
by the authors are shown. Two commercial CFD codes
were employed in the simulations of the present work:
the fully unstructured finite-volume code FLUENT,
developed and marketed by Fluent Inc. from New Fig. 3 – Drainpipe aligned to local flow.
Hampshire and the CFD++ code of Metacomp
Technologies, CA.
Flow Pattern in the Forward Fuselage with smoother transitions from surface to surface will
be required in order to obtain a lower form drag, In
In order to show some of the work performed with contrary, lower viscous drag will be achieved with less
CFD, Fig. 4 illustrates the typical airflow pattern in the wetted area. If structural weight is considered in the
forward-fuselage region. The main features of the problem, an interesting Multidisciplinary Design
airflow in this region are basically determined by what Optimization is then posed. It is also important to
happens at points A and B, which are displayed in provide enough area for the placement of probes and
Figure 4. The airflow comes to rest at the foremost part sensors. Planes with narrow fuselages could experience
of the nose and eventually at kink-shaped windshield- fuzzy readings by pitot probes when the landing gear is
nose junctions. At the constant-section part of the actuated. In this situation, the movement of the landing
fuselage the local velocity is very close to freestream. gear causes disturbances in the airflow in the probe
Therefore, the flow is steadily accelerating from station vicinities and at the probe itself.
A to B unless it encounters break points like the
windshield-nose junction like that displayed in Fig. 4. A smoother transition between parts of the fuselage
However, this apparently simple nature of the flow largely contributes to improve the overall quality of the
leads to complex consequences. As an example, the flow. By employing double-curvature windshields a
flow over the cockpit region can develop shock waves. smoother lofting is obtaining and the flow gradients are
The main reason behind this phenomenon is related to lowered and even the strength of shock waves is
the shorter path that the flow follow from the standstill reduced. (Fig. 7).
state in front of windshield to the freestream level at the
beginning of the central fuselage. The shorter the path,
the higher the speed of the flow along the cockpit
curvature that eventually leads to shock wave formation
depending on the fuselage shape and freestream Mach
number. If the flow separates on the upper fuselage due
to bad fuselage shape both in subsonic or transonic
regime, a remedy is the addition of vortex generators.
In the case of shock waves, the vortex generators are
not able to avoid flow separation and guarantee
reattachment (Fig. 5). By a proper design of the
forward fuselage a shock-free or subcritical airflow
around the fuselage can be achieved (Fig. 6). In Fig. 4 – Typical airflow behavior in the forward-
designing an optimal forward fuselage, a longer nose fuselage region.

Fig. 5 - The Armstrong-Whitworth Argosy (left) and a business jet aircraft (right) employ
vortex generators to fix airflow separation at the upper forward fuselage region. For the specific
case of this Gulfstream aircraft, separation is caused by shock waves forming over the cockpit.
Fig. 6 - Symmetry-plane Mach contours resulting from CFD three-dimensional transonic calculations of the
airflow around a transport aircraft forward fuselage. By properly shaping the fuselage a smooth subcritical
airflow can be achieved. Mach = 0.80, α = 0o.

Fig. 7 - The higher the freestream Mach number, the harder is either the design of a shock-free
fuselage or for reducing the negative effects caused by shock waves. By employing Double-curvature
windshields the maximum local Mach number was reduced 0.24 when it is compared to the
configuration with a single-curvature windshield. (M∞ = 0.85, α = 00).

The flow of low aspect wing-fuselage configuration at a weighting function (WF) that accounts for the mixed
supersonic speeds is similar to the flow around a body flow. WF equal to 1.0 corresponds to uniform sonic
of revolution with the same distribution of cross- flow. The fuselage reshaping according to this
sectional area. According to the area rule, it can be technique is much less severe than the standard area-
assumed that at large distances from the body the ruling method. Thus, the decreased body modification
disturbances in the flow are independent of the should lead to increased efficiency for transonic
arrangement of the components and are only a function aircraft.
of the cross-sectional area distribution. Thus, the drag
of a wing-body configuration can be calculated as if the
configuration were a body of revolution with equivalent
cross sections. The Sears-Haack body has the minimum
possible wave drag for any closed-end body of the same
length and total volume. This leads to the area-rule
principle for minimizing the wave drag. Wave drag at
Mach 1.0 is minimized when the aircraft has a volume
distribution identical to that of a Sears-Haack body.
Drag is reduced when the volume distribution is
changed to resemble more the Sears-Haack’s body,
which has a minimal amount of longitudinal curvature.

The supersonic area-rule was then expanded and Fig. 8 - The extended “cab” smoothes the cross-
validated for the transonic regime. Transonic flow sectional area distribution along the longitudinal
characterizes by mixed regions of subsonic and axis. (Goodmanson and Gratzer, 1973).
supersonic regions. The new transonic area-rule utilizes
A practical example of the area-rule principle is for freestream Mach number of 0.76 and 1.5o angle of
illustrated in Fig. 8, which shows a fuselage attack. The probes were not aligned to the local flow.
modification of the Boeing 747 fuselage by a “cab”
extension. The results of tests (Fig. 9) show that the
divergence Mach number is delayed by smoothing the
area distribution by fairing the fuselage-cab-juncture.

Fig. 10 – The three positions of the ice detector in

the forward fuselage.

Fig. 9 – Effect of the “cab” extension

on measured drag of Boeing 747.
(Goodmanson and Gratzer, 1973).

Practical Applications

Flow over the ice probe

Aerodynamic flow simulations around an aircraft

configuration targeted for aerodynamic studies were
Fig. 11 – Typical surface mesh in the ice-detector
carried out. The configuration was equipped with a
region created with GAMBIT.
typical ice detector. The ice detector consists of a
cylindrical probe and a wing-shaped fairing positioned
at the basis of the probe. The maximum thickness of the
standard fairing’s section is 38%. Is worth of mention
that this value of the maximum thickness is considered
by aerodynamicists to be very high for transonic aircraft
configurations. The device was placed in three different
locations along the forward fuselage of the aircraft
configuration. Fig. 10 provides an overall picture of the
three different locations of the ice detector, which
derived three different configurations, which were
named P1, P2, and P3. Six different meshes, each of
them containing a single ice detector, were created with
ICEM_CFD and GAMBIT mesh generators (Figures
11-14). The meshes were intended for Euler flow
calculations with both FLUENT and CFD++ codes.
Another mesh for the P2 configuration was created with
GAMBIT for a Navier-Stokes run, which was only
performed with the FLUENT code. The main reason Fig. 12 – Surface mesh created with ICEM.
behind these simulations is the evaluation the influence
of the ice-detector location onto the aerodynamic flow
over the probe and the fairing. All runs were performed
A comparison between the CFD++ and FLUENT
calculations for the P2 configuration is shown in Fig.
16. The same mesh, which was generated with the
ICEM-CFD mesh generator, was employed in both
computations. The coupled explicit algorithm was used
in the simulation with FLUENT. The Cp distributions
are for the fairing mid section. An overall good
agreement between the curves can be easily observed.

Fig. 17 shows a comparison between an Euler and a

Navier-Stokes run with the FLUENT code. The
realizable κ-ε turbulence model was employed in the
Fig. 13 – Mesh created with GAMBIT around a viscous computation. The more important differences
probe’s fairing section. between both simulations are related to the shock
location over the probe’s fairing.

Fig. 16 – Comparison of Cp distributions obtained

with Fluent and CFD++ along the midsection of the
fairing. Inviscid case for the P2 configuration.

Fig. 14 – Mesh created with ICEM around a probe’s

fairing section.

Fig. 15 shows a comparison of pressure coefficient

(Cp) distributions obtained from Euler simulations with
CFD++ for the configurations P1 and P2. A brief
analysis of the results reveals that the P2 configuration,
which is located aft of the P1 probe, presents a stronger
shock wave at the lower side of the fairing. The shock
location for the P2 configuration was closer to the
trailing edge of the fairing when compared to that for
the P1 one.
Fig. 17 – Cp distributions obtained with FLUENT
over the fairing midsection for the P2 configuration.

The flow separates at the lower side of the fairing of the

P2 configuration according to the Navier-Stokes
simulation performed with FLUENT (Fig. 18).
Naturally, the flow behind the probe with its cylindrical
form is also separated for all conditions and P-
configurations of the present work. Maximum Mach
number over the ice detector obtained from the Euler
run was found to be higher than 2, and slightly lower
Fig. 15 – Cp distribution of the fairing mid section from the Navier-Stokes simulation.
for the P1 and P2 configurations. Euler runs with
Figs. 19-20 show pathlines obtained from the viscous
run performed with the FLUENT for the P2
configuration. Fig. 20 reveals the misalignment of the
P2-probe with the local flow. Fig. 21 provides an
overall picture of the Euler flow pattern over the ice
detector for the three configurations under study. The
calculations were performed with the CFD++ code. The
farther back the ice detector is located, the higher the
Mach number of the local flow.

Fig. 18 – Contours of velocity magnitude. Fluent

Navier-Stokes run for the P2 configuration.

Fig. 20 – Pathlines obtained from the viscous run.

Fig. 19 – Pathlines and velocity magnitude contours

for the viscous run with FLUENT.

Fig. 21 – Mach contours for the three configurations calculated with CFD++ (M∞ = 0.76, α = 1.50). The farther
the ice probe is located from the nose, the higher the velocities over the fairing and likely is the occurrence of
flow separation.
General results of an airflow simulation over
the forward fuselage
A low-speed business jet typical configuration was
analyzed at Mach number of 0.65 and zero degree angle
of attack with FLUENT. The configuration was named
JL1. The coupled explicit solver was employed to solve
the airflow over the configuration. The spatial
tetrahedral mesh is comprised of nearly one million
cells (Fig. 22). The Euler flow solution was considered
converged after 1,200 iterations. Fig. 23 shows Mach
contours on the aircraft skin. The maximum local Mach
number is approximately 1.32.

Fig. 24 – Cp Distribution at fuselage centerline.

Fig. 24 displays the Cp distribution at the JL1

centerline. Most of the regions where the flow reveals a
peculiar behavior is numbered and can be described as
1- Stagnation point at aircraft nose.
2- Stagnation point at nose-windshield junction.
3- Flow acceleration over the cockpit.
4- Stagnation at fuselage-fairing junction.
5- Flow acceleration at fairing lower side caused by
the wing interference.

Even considering that the freestream Mach number is

Fig. 22 – Surface mesh for the airflow analysis over
relatively low, the configuration presents a high-speed
the JL1 configuration.
flow over the cockpit. Although fully subsonic, the
local maximum Mach number at this region tops 0.91
(Fig. 25), a source of noise in the cockpit. In addition,
the flow stagnation at the nose-windshield junction will
cause structural vibration, originating this way another
source of noise in the cockpit.

Fig. 23 – Mach contours over the JL1 configuration.

M∞ = 0.65, α = 00.

Fig. 25 – Regions on the JL1 aircraft surface where

the local Mach number is higher than 0.90.
M∞ = 0.65, α = 00.
Pathlines in the forward fuselage are displayed in Figs.
26, 27. The pathlines that can be observed at the side
panels of the fuselage alter their directions downwards
after an upward path in the forefront of nose. This is
partially caused by the ellipsoidal form of the nose and
contributes to increase drag, considering that flow
needs energy to change its path.

Fig. 28 – Mach contours for a research fuselage.

M∞ = 0.85, α = 00. Observe the low-speed region
after the shock wave that is present over the
Fig. 26 - Pathlines on the forward fuselage.
Front view. M∞ = 0.65, α = 00. The Navier-Stokes simulation for the same
configuration indicates the flow separation after the
shock wave that is formed over the cockpit (Fig. 29).
The original fuselage was modified and a double-
curvature windshield was introduced, all other surfaces
remaining unchanged (Fig. 30). A Navier-Stokes run
for this new fuselage configuration revealed that the
shock-wave strength was considerably reduced and the
flow fully attached after the shock (Fig. 7).

Fig. 27 - Pathlines on the forward fuselage.

Top view. M∞ = 0.65, α = 00.

Flow over the cockpit region

In order to avoid shock waves appearing over the
cockpit smooth surfaces should be employing as far the
design constraints allow for. Fig. 28 shows Mach
contours obtained from an Euler flow simulation with
FLUENT for a fuselage configuration used for the
tuning of CFD codes. A moderate shock wave is
present over the cockpit. Fig. 29 – Velocity profile in the aircraft centerline.
M∞ = 0.85, α = 00.
seen in Fig. 32. The final balance is very favorable to
the modified configuration. The maximum local Mach
number over the cockpit was reduced by 0.18.
Aerodynamicists usually consider that the possibility of
flow separation increases dramatically if the local Mach
number is over 1.3. Thus, the mentioned modification
certainly contributes to avoid flow separation over the
cockpit caused by the shock wave, which is present
there. Although over accelerated flow can be observed
at the junction of the nose and the surface below the
windshield, inadequate matching of both surfaces
caused it. A proper redesign of the nose surface should
considerably improve the flow in this region.
Fig. 30 – Baseline and modified fuselage
centerline curves(dotted line).

Another study was performed by setting the kink angle

between the nose and the windshield to 180 degrees,
resulting in a final configuration with a shorter nose
(Fig. 31). Only the nose surfaces were modified, all
other surfaces remaining unchanged. The shorter nose
of the new configuration should theoretically contribute
to accelerate the flow over the cockpit, generating a
stronger shock wave when compared to that present at
the baseline configuration. By other hand, the smoother Fig. 31 – Nose modification Study.
transition between the cockpit and windshield should
contribute for a weakening of the shock over the
cockpit. Both configurations were analyzed with the
FLUENT code and the results of Euler computations
for M∞ of 0.80 and zero degree angle of attack can be

Fig. 32 – Mach contours on the forward fuselage.

M∞ = 0.80, α = 00.
Concluding Remarks Bibliography
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is the local velocities over the probe and its connected Germany,1973.
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