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AIAA 2004-5192



André Luiz Delgado Regis* and Bento Silva de Mattos+

Empresa Brasileira de Aeronáutica SA – Embraer
Av. Brigadeiro Faria Lima, 2170
12227-901 São José dos Campos, São Paulo, Brazil

Roberto da Mota Girardi#

Aeronautical Institute of Technology (ITA), São José dos Campos, São Paulo, Brazil

The present work performs a detailed analysis of the impact of the cruise speed of a commercial
twinjet transport aircraft on its wing structural weight. The results will provide designers some guidelines
for conceptual studies, when a cruise speed must be then specified. Some assumptions were made in order
to conduct the proposed analysis: the fuel shall be stored in the wings only; the same fuselage was
considered for all configurations, regardless of their cruise speed; and a maximum range of 3,695 nm
(6,843 km). An algorithm named Asa Turbo was developed for the estimation of the initial wing
configuration. By fulfilling design requirements and employing a performance calculation code, the
procedure is able to calculate the corresponding lift coefficient and wing geometry parameters such as
sweep angle, area, and airfoil maximum thickness, additionally providing an initial estimation for the wing
structural weight according to the Torenbeek’s method. In order to better calculate the wing structural
weight, a framework for wing structure preliminary design was employed. A code developed as PDWSW,
which stands for Pre-Design Wing Structural Weight, was conceived to satisfy structural constraints as
well as design requirements, based on load envelops and stress analyses under a Knowledge Based
Engineering (KBE) environment. PDWSW outputs a minimum-weight structural configuration for a given
wing planform. In order to start the weight estimation procedure, the wing conceptual-design Asa Turbo
generated ten wing geometries for different cruise Mach numbers, ranging from Mach 0.75 to 0.90. All
these wings were then modeled with CATIA® and their structural design was considerably refined with
the PDWSW framework. In order to utilize PDWSW, the user must define the position of the spars, ribs,
and stringers and provide all preliminary dimensions of wings structure elements to obtain the minimum
weight, within the required boundary safety. The numerical procedure implemented obtains the optimal
number of ribs per wing box (main and trailing), the optimal number of stringers per rib bay, and optimal
sizing of all structural components (skin, spars, ribs and stringers). This procedure guarantees that
acceptable margins of safety and functionality requirements are fulfilled. The automation of the process is
important in this particular application considering the enormous amount of data to be handled in a short
period of time.

Loads Engineer, Embraer,
Dr.-Ing. Technological Development, Embraer
Prof.-Dr. Aerodynamics, ITA

AIAA 2004-5192

The present work investigates some design aspects of a twinjet aircraft featuring engines mounted
on pylons below the wing (Fig. 1). The main goal of the present work is to evaluate the impact of the
cruise Mach number of a commercial transport aircraft on its wing structural weight. A spin off of this
study could be some guidance for the choice of the more suited cruise Mach number of new aircraft in this
class. Ten wings were previously designed with a low-fidelity multi-disciplinary iterative algorithm,
called Asa Turbo, for cruising Mach number ranging from 0.75 to 0.90. Afterwards, a knowledge-Based
Engineering (KBE) framework performed a pre-design of the wing structure, also providing a more
accurate calculated their structural weight. According to ASIEDU & GU (1998), KAPLAN & COOPER
1998 and RAGATZ et al 1997, from 75% to 85% of the total cost of a product, along all its lifecycle, is
determined in the initial design periods of training. KBE allows costs, risks and time-to-market reductions.
By employing a KBE application in this work, wing structural designs of a commercial transport aircraft
could then be performed with reasonable detailing.

Fig. 1 – Typical configuration for the aircraft under study.

Some methodologies for the estimation of structural weight of wings are available5-7, amongst
them the methodology developed by Cessna - applied for small airplanes with speeds below 200 kts (103
m/s) – the one developed by USAF - used for aircraft with speeds below 300 kts (154,4 m/s) -, and the one
developed by Torenbeek10,11 - indicated for aircraft with MTOW below 12,500 lb (5,670 kg). For
commercial transport aircraft two methodologies apply mainly: GD method and as well as the Torenbeek
one. The first method is applied for Mach number in the range 0.40-0.80, maximum thickness ratio (t/c)m
ranging from 0.08 to 0.15 and aspect ratio varying from 4 to 12; the second method is more suited for
airplanes above 12,500 lb (5,670 kg). Both the methods take into account the weight of high-lift devices
and ailerons. For spoilers and air brakes two percent to the overall structural weight must be added.
According the Torenbeek, the basic requirements for the wing design is associated with
performance and operational aspects, flying characteristics and handling, structural design, and
considerations of general layout design. For high-speed aircraft, the structural wing design may be
extremely complex, due to aeroelastic effects - for example, various forms of flutter or aileron reversal
may occur; wing twist caused by bending of a sweptback wing may cause reduced longitudinal stability. A
methodology to calculate the wing structural weight, a relation between the maximum thickness ratio and
the divergent Mach number, which had been used in the present study, is expressed by Torenbeek10,11.
Some methodologies for aerodynamic calculations and structural wing weight estimation of a transport
aircraft are easily found in the literature. Unfortunately, during this research, no study that considered a
combination between wing structural weight and aerodynamic characteristics of aircraft was found. The
exception was the Kyser A method1 whose heading gives the idea of that the author, deals with this
combination for the wing project. However, the Kyser A method1 was not available.
The structure of the present work can be seen in Fig. 2. The main objective of the study carried
out here, as previously mentioned, is to map the wing structural weight evolution with the cruise Mach
number of a commercial transport aircraft. The three first steps are defined conditions, which start the pre-
design of the aircraft’s wing. The box # 1 describes the requirements for the configuration, which are:

AIAA 2004-5192

· Takeoff field length cannot exceed 6,000 ft (1,828 m),

· Cruising altitude – 41,000 ft (12,497 m),
· Maximum range with maximum payload – 3,695 nm (6,843 km)
The second box represents ten different wings belonging to aircraft with different cruise speeds. Each
of them cruises at a specified Mach number, which varies from 0.75 to 0.90. The cell # 3 contains the
constant parameters for all aircraft, such as weight of the central and front fuselages, empennages, engine
cowlings, and pylons. The necessary fuel to fulfill the mission is stored in the wings only. All ten aircraft
common the same fuselage dimensions.
Cell # 4 represents a code developed by authors written in MATLAB® language. The code is called
Asa Turbo and its purpose is the generation of preliminary wing geometries based on mission
requirements. This preliminary wing is modeled accordingly in CATIA®. Asa Turbo also provides the
necessary data for the calculation of the wing loading (SLZ, BMX&TMY) that is performed with the
open-source vortex-lattice code Tornado. The wing sweepback angle is calculated in Asa Turbo by a
formula relating the sweepback angle to the cruise Mach. This relationship is based on statistical analysis
of existing airplane belonging to the aircraft category under consideration. The section labelled five
represents the Asa Turbo outputs, highlighting the initial estimation of the wing structural weight, which
will be later compared to the PDWSW calculation. Fig. 3 reveals the architecture behind Asa Turbo. Box
# 6 represents the shape of the airfoils that had been designed by an optimization multipoint algorithm16.
Cell # 7 symbolizes the CATIA® lofting of the wings that were previously designed with Asa Turbo and
that are read into PDWSW for the accurate weight estimation.

- Range : previously defined.

Cruise Mach
- Altitude : previously defined.
- Fuel shall be stored in the wings Number:
- Weight of fuselage, tail, engine,
only. (0.7 to 0.9)
nacelle, and pylon previously defined.

1 3

Code Asa Turbo 4

(Processed in MatLabÒ)

Initial estimative of Wing geometric Airfoils thickness · CL cruise

wing structural dimensions ratio · Vol. fuel 5

Code Tornado.
(Processed in MatLabÒ)
6 Lofting of wing 7
1 8
Wing distrubutions loads

Processed in the code PDWSW. 9


Estimative of wing
structural weight

Fig. 2 – Workflow of the wing Structural weight estimation.

AIAA 2004-5192

Fig. 3 – Asa Turbo Architecture.

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It was considered in Asa Turbo that cruise altitude, taper ratio, and wing aspect ratio are the same
for all ten wings with their values previously chosen. The divergence Mach number (Mdd) was assumed to
be 2.5 percent higher than the cruise one. The cruise speeds are defined with the objective of enclosing the
majority of the speeds used by commercial transport aircraft. The chosen values for the cruise Mach
number are: 0.75, 0.77, 0.79, 0.80, 0.81, 0.82, 0.85, 0.87, 0.89, and 0.90. After the divergence Mach
number is obtained, the sweepback angle at 25 percent of the chord (Λ25%) is calculated by the equation

Λ 25% = -8860.66 + 10.7608 ´ M dd - 16281.5 ´ ...

2 . 3604

... ´ (- 1.72451 + M dd )´ M dd ´ (1.47319 + (- 1.71969 + M dd )´ M dd )
Afterwards, the maximum thickness ratio is calculated by
é ì 5 + (M ´ cos L )2 ü 3. 5 ù 3

c M dd {
t = 0.3 ´ (M ´ cos L )-1 - M ´ cos L
25% dd 25% }
´ ê1 - í
ê î

5 + (M *)
ý ú (2)
ë þ úû
with M * = 1.15 - 0.25 ´ CL ´ (cos L 25% )
The structural basic weight of the wing (Wwing) is defined as the weight of all the groups of the
wing, i.e., all the parts that compose a wing less the high-lift devices, spoilers, and air brakes. It is
calculated by Eq. 3. In order to solve this equation, it is necessary to know some parameters, such as
spread, planform area, and maximum takeoff weight (MTOW), which are still unknown. Therefore, an
interactive algorithm was written to overcome this barrier.
Wwing = C1knokl ke kuc kst [kb nult (Wdes - 0.8 ´ WW )] ´ b1.675 (t c )r (cos L1/ 2 )-1.325
0.55 -0.45

where Wdes ≡ MTOW;
and C1 = 8.94 ´10 -4 (Ww and Wdes in lb and b in ft) or C1 = 4.58 ´ 10 -3 (Ww and Wdes in kg and b in m).

k no = 1 + (3a) with bref = 1.905 m . The factor Kno represents the weight penalty due to skin
joints, non-tapered skin, minimum gauge, etc.
bS = b. cos -1 L 1 2 , The factor bS represents the structural wing span.
k l = (1 + l ) , where l is the wing taper ratio, l = c t c r .

ke - Bending moment relief factor due to the engine and nacelle installation (if engines are not mounted
on the wings, ke = 1 ).
kuc = 1 , If the landing gear is stowed in the wing.
k st - For the extra weight required to provide stiffness against flutter the following correction is proposed
for high-subsonic jet aircraft with engines not mounted on the wing or two engines in front of the elastic
axis of the wing:
ìV ü
(b. cos L LE )3 ï D 100 ï
k st = 1 + C 2 ´ í ý cos L 1 2 (3b)
W des ï (t c )r ï
î þ
where the Constant C2 is given by
C 2 = 1.50 ´ 10 -5 - For b in ft, Wdes in lb, and VD in kts or

AIAA 2004-5192

C 2 = 9.06 ´ 10 -4 - For b in m, Wdes in kg, and VD in m/s;

k b - The correction factor for strut location on braced wings. For aircrafts with cantilever wings, k b = 1
The following equation states a simplified method for the calculation of the weight of the wing
including all possible sources. This expression is valid for cases with retractable landing gear stowed in
the wings.
0 .3
ìï bref üï 0.55 æ bS tr ö
WW = W k b í1 + ýnult çç ÷÷
0 .75
G w S (4)
ïî bS ïþ W
è G ø S
k w , bS , bref , t r - Constants, and bS , bref are explained above.
According to Torenbeek10, for aircraft transports with Wto > 12,500 lb (5,670 kg):
k w = 1.70 ´ 10 -3 - This factor is applied to: WG ≡ MZFW in lb, bS in ft, S in ft and Ww in lb.
k w = 6.67 ´ 10 -3 - This factor is applied to: WG ≡ MZFW in kg, bS in m, S in m and Ww in kg.

According to Roskam, fuel volume and fuel weight can be given by

Vol fuel = 0.9 ´ FF ´ 0.54 ´

b cr
( )
S 2 t 1 + l t + l2t
(1 + l )2 (5) where , t=
(t / c)t
(t / c) r

and FF is a correction factor due to fuel expansion.

Thus, W fuel = Vol fuel ´ r fuel .

The first estimative of maximum takeoff weight should be according to the following equation

MTOW = Waircraft = W fus + Weng + Wwing + Wcomb (6)

As follow, the lift coefficient at cruise condition is calculated by
2Waircraft 2
C Lcru = . (7)
rV 2 S
For the next steps the fuel flow (FF) and the specific range (SR) are calculated by equations below,
D ´ Cn V
FF = (8a) and SR = . (8b)
g FF ´ 0.5144
The fuel weight fuel and the necessary fuel volume (Volfuel) are obtained as follow
Range W
W fuel = , Vol fuel = fuel (9)
SR r fuel
After the value for the fuel volume and weight are calculated, a new takeoff weight and a associated wing
area (S) to accommodate the required fuel new is obtained by

(1 + l )2 ´ b ´ Vol fuel
) ( c)
0.9 ´ FF ´ 0.54 ´ 1 + l t + l2t ´ t

After the wing area is obtained, a recalculated value for the lift coefficient (CL) at cruise condition feeds
an interactive process. Only a few iterations are necessary until convergence is attained and all necessary
values for the determination of the wing are available.

AIAA 2004-5192

Asa Turbo Results

Fig. 4 shows the convergence history of the code Asa Turbo. The residual is represented in the
vertical axis. The calculated values of aircraft and fuel weights are used combined as convergence
9000 Wcomb









0 5 10 15 20 25
n de interacoes

Fig. 4 – Typical Asa Turbo convergence history.

Fig. 5 – Cantilever ratio vs. aircraft size.

Fig. 5 shows to the relationship between MTOW and the cantilever ratio, that it is obtained
dividing the semispan by the maximum thickness of the wing root. The cantilever ratio values for
transport aircraft lay between 18 and 22. Figures above 25 are rare, with exception for cases of supersonic
aircraft. However, the cantilever ratio for some wings of the present study presented some values above
25. This can be attributed to the fact that all fuel must be stored in the wings of a ultra long-range aircraft.

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CAD Surfaces and airfoils

The Lofting of the wing in CATIA® is necessary as input for the PDWSW code. From the wing
geometric definition obtained by running the code Asa Turbo, was possible to create the CAD surfaces
(Figs. 6).

Mach = 0.75 Mach = 0.90

Fig. 6 – Wing planform calculated by Asa Turbo.

Three airfoils define the wing geometry. These geometries are located at the wing-fuselage
intersection, trailing-edge break station, and at the tip. The airfoils in between are obtained by linear
interpolation from these three basic geometries as well as their incidences. The profiles of the tip and
break station are typical supercritical airfoils. The aft-camber of the root-station airfoil was reduced in
order to minimize interference drag.
Wing Loading
The spanwise loading on the surface of the wing and empennages is a major factor impacting on sizing
and strength of the structural components. The shape of the load distribution will define the form of the
distributions buckling, bending, and torsion moments.
In the present work, it was employed a vortex-lattice open-source code to calculate the loading
along the wingspan. The code, known as Tornado, allows the calculation of wing loading with deflected
flaps, among other interesting features. Tornado is a 3D code featuring flexible wake and any number of
lifting surfaces can be utilized as well as any number of control surfaces. The loads in the wing had been
calculated considering a cruise altitude of 41,000 ft, a load factor of +2.5 (balanced), and -1.0 as
maximum negative for the aircraft with maximum takeoff weight. The aircraft is treated as a rigid body,
the wing structural weight as well as the landing gear providing relief loads. Tornado transforms the wing
in a setoff panels as shown in Fig. 7. Tornado has been validated against experimental results obtained for
the Cessna 172 piston-powered aircraft17.
A broad range of simulations with Tornado was performed encompassing different cg locations
and manoeuvres described in airworthiness certification requirements. Due to its nature, Tornado is not
able to handle supercritical flows, calculating this way higher loads than that found in the real plane.

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3-D Wing configuration, Vortex layout.

Wing z-coord



Wing y-coord 6
Wing x-coord

Fig. 7 – The vortex-lattice Tornado code was employed for load calculation.

Predesign Optimization Wing Structural Weight (PDWSW)

PDWSW requires a lofting surface of the wing as input such that structural components can be created
within allowed boundaries. Figure 8 shows hypothetical upper and lower wing surfaces. Additionally, the
wing reference plane must also be provided.

Fig. 8 - CAD surfaces are an input of PDWSW.

A typical spar location on the wing reference plane is shown in Fig. 9. Spar I is assumed straight,
extending from wing root to tip such that two points on the reference plane uniquely define it. Spar II
features a kink point such that three points are required instead. Spar III is the shortest and two points
suffices. Two methods for defining the points are available: one based on global coordinates and other
based on local reference systems.

Figure 9 - Spar location.

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PDWSW obtains the best number of ribs for minimum weight. However, due to design
requirements, it is often necessary to define fixed ribs that cannot vary during the optimization procedure.
For instance, engine ribs, fuel ribs and landing gear ribs are usually present and their locations are
specified beforehand.
Two sets of fixed ribs exist: ribs between spars I and II (main fixed ribs) and between spars II and
III (trailing fixed ribs). All of these are specified parallel to the flight direction and perpendicular to the
ground. Figure 9 also shows a configuration where five main fixed ribs and five trailing fixed ribs were
created. Notice that, at least, four fixed ribs must exist: the root and tip ribs for both main and trailing
The creation of fixed ribs leads naturally to the definition of wing regions as illustrated in Fig. 9.
A region comprises the space between two adjacent fixed ribs and two adjacent spars. Material properties
must also be available for the structural calculations implemented in PDWSW.
The design variables considered in the optimization process for the structural calculation have lateral
limits that are user specified, for instance the, smallest and largest distance between upper stringers, lower
and upper limits for spar web thickness, etc. Also, the weight relief ratio and fatigue allowable are defined
for specific regions of the wing.

This section reports the results of the code Asa Turbo and PDWSW. The ten wings calculated by
Asa Turbo were inputted into PDWSW for a preliminary design of the wing structure, providing, this way,
a better calculation of the weight calculation.
Fig. 10 shows the variation of the cruise Mach with the CL for the ten aircraft configurations. It
can be clearly seen that the lift coefficient lowers if the Mach number is increased.

Aircraft 1
0.5 Aircraft2 A=8
l = 0.33
Aircraft 3 Range = 3,700 nm
Aircraft 5

Aircraft 4

0.4 Aircraft 6
Aircraft 7

Aircraft 9
0.35 Aircraft 8
Aircraft 10

0.75 0.77 0.79 0.81 0.83 0.85 0.87 0.89 0.91
Fig. 10 – Lift coefficient at cruise condition for the ten aircraft configurations.

Fig. 11 shows the variation of the maximum airfoil thickness average [(t/c)m] with the cruise
Mach. (t/c)m strongly influences in the structural weight of the wing. For the four speedier configurations,
the value of this variable is almost the same. This can be explained by the maximum thickness of the three
basic airfoils reaching the limits set by the user for Mach numbers up from 0.85.

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Aircraft 1
0.13 Aircraft 2

Aircraft 4
Aircraft 3 Aircraft 5
Aircraft 7 Aircraft 8 Aircraft 9

0.11 Aircraft 6
Aircraft 10


0.09 A=8
l = 0.33
Range = 3700 nm
0.75 0.77 0.79 0.81 0.83 0.85 0.87 0.89 0.91

Fig. 11 – Average t/c for the ten aircraft configurations.

Fig. 12 shows the influence that the Mach number on the wing reference area. The area from the
Mach-0.75 aircraft was taken as baseline for the percentual values displayed in Fig. 12. The wing area was
repeatedly increased due to the need to store the required fuel to fulfil the mission. From Mach 0.80 on
there is a noticeable increase in the wing-area values because drag increases substantially from this point

Aircraft 10
Aircraft 8
Aircraft 9

Aircraft 7
S [%]


Aircraft 6
Aircraft 5
0.05 Aircraft 3 A=8
Aircraft 4
Aircraft 2 l = 0.33
Aircraft 1 Range = 3700 nm
0.75 0.77 0.79 0.81 0.83 0.85 0.87 0.89 0.91
Fig. 12 – Wing reference area for the aircraft under study.

Fig. 13 shows the variation of wing loading with the cruise Mach. It can be seen that wing loading
reduces as Mach number increases. As explained before, the wing area increases substantially with speed
due to the need to store fuel in the wings. Once CL at cruise condition lowers at higher speeds, it is
expected that the wing loading will decrease for the faster aircraft. For comparison reasons only, some
figures for existing aircraft are plotted in the graph.

AIAA 2004-5192

Boeing 717

500 Falcon 900B/C e 900 Gulfstream G200

BD - 700 Global
EX CL - 604 Challenger
1126 Galaxy Express
400 Falcon 50 EX
W/S [kg/m ]

BD - 100 Continental
Falcon 2000 Hawker Horizon 750 Citation X



0.75 0.77 0.79 0.81 0.83 0.85 0.87 0.89 0.91
Fig. 13 – Wing loading evolution with Mach number.

Fig. 14 shows a comparison between Asa Turbo and the PDWSW results for the wing structural
weight. It can be easily acknowledged that the Mach-0.90 aircraft is fitted with a wing 60 percent heavier
that one of the Mach-0.75 airplane. Both codes agree very well in this case. The results from PDWSW
indicates a inflection point at Mach 0.85; below this point PDWSW designed heavier wings than that
calculated by the Torenbeek’s method.

Fig. 14 - Wing weight evolution with cruise Mach number. Results obtained with PDWSW.

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Concluding Remarks
The code Asa Turbo designed ten wing geometries for the twinjet airplanes that must perform the
same mission but at different cruising speeds. The cruise speeds of those aircraft ranged from 0.75 to 0.90
Mach number. It must be pointed out that those wings do not represent the optimal design for the aircraft
under consideration. By employing the KBE code PDWSW, the structural wing weight the aircraft
configurations could be calculated with reasonable accuracy. The Mach-0.90 aircraft presented a wing 60
percent heavier than that designed for the Mach-0.75 airplane.
The interval from Mach 0.75 to 0.79 and that one from Mach number 0.87 to 0.90 present the
lowest slope regarding wing structural weight increase with speed. The upper boundaries of the two
intervals could be a good choice when the goal is the design of fast aircraft. Higher values for the wing
structural weight obtained with PDWSW for Mach numbers below 0.85 can be partially explained by the
conservative loads calculated with Tornado.
The sharp increase of the sweepback angle of the wing coupled with the reduction of (t/c)max
causes a reduction of wing’s CLmax, leading to more complex high-lift devices for faster aircraft, further
increasing the wing structural weight and maintenance costs. The impact of the wing geometry on the
maximum lift coefficient was not accounted for in the present work. However, it is being considered for
future work. Sweeping the wing is not without additional drawbacks. Wing sweep increases the wing
weight for fixed span since the length of the wing increases with sweep to get reach same wingspan. In
addition, high-lift devices aren’t as effective when the trailing edge is swept. Also, the wing tends to stall
outboard first, leading to pitchup, a situation where the wing stops lifting well aft of the center of gravity,
while continuing to lift ahead of the center of gravity. This results in a sudden nose up pitching moment,
and an unstable slope. The pitching moment was a constraint in the design process of the present work,
therefore enabling the design of aircraft with good flying qualities. However, the wing twist was not a
design variable. By properly providing an adequate twist to the wing, the problem with pitchup can be
minimized, while reducing the induced drag and contributing to tip stall avoidance. However, a weight
penalty is inherent when twisting the wing. Therefore, further improvement of Asa Turbo will include a
variable to represent the wing twist.

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