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47th AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting Including The New Horizons Forum and Aerospace Exposition AIAA 2009-431

5 - 8 January 2009, Orlando, Florida

47th AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting

5-8 Jan 2009, Orlando, FL

Comprehensive Aircraft Preliminary Design Methodology

Applied to the Design of MALE UAV
Liaquat U. Iqbal1 and John P. Sullivan2
Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47906

The Structured Design Methods such as Quality Function Deployment (QFD) and Pugh’s
concept generation and selection methods have been shown in the industry to improve the
problem definition and design synthesis for the new products hence resulting in the better
product design. The application is however limited in the aerospace industry, because the
decisions are mostly based on the intuition, simplified back-of-the-envelope calculations and
few hand-drawn sketches instead of any higher-fidelity design data using Computer Aided
Design and Engineering (CAD/CAE) tools. This leads to the skepticism about the findings of
such design methods and reduces their wider acceptance and application in the aerospace
design. The examples showing significant improvements in the product definition solely
based on the computationally supported design methods are almost negligible. This paper
describes work undertaken to add quantitative analysis to these methods in order to reduce
such deficiencies. A comprehensive approach has been applied to integrate the mission
analysis with high fidelity CAD, CFD and FEA tools that in return provide high fidelity data
to enter in the QFD matrix or Pugh’s Concept generation and selection matrix. MS Excel
spreadsheet coupled to high level CAD and CAE tools has integrated several aircraft design
disciplines for the preliminary design phase. The objective is to demonstrate that the
application of Design Methods results in better problem specification and solution synthesis
when the scores and rankings are based on the CAD and the high fidelity multidisciplinary
design data from aerodynamics and structures. The integration methodology is also used to
illustrate the unification of two distinct design phases in the traditional design process i.e. the
conceptual and preliminary design into one Preliminary design phase. It is suggested that
with the integration of CAD and CAE tools, one can perform all the activities and tasks in
one unified phase with reduced design cycle time as compared with two separate design
phases comprising of two separate teams. The Pugh’s Method is applied to generate,
analyze and select the design concepts for a Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE)
UAV utilizing high fidelity information.

BWB = Blended Wing Body
CAD = Computer Aided Design
CAE = Computer Aided Engineering
CAM = Computer Aided Manufacturing
CFD = Computational Fluid Dynamics
Cp = Coefficient of Pressure
DBF = Design, Build, Fly
FEM = Finite Element Methods
FEA = Finite Element Analysis
GSA = Generative Structural Analysis
MALE = Medium Altitude Long Endurance
UAV = Unmanned Aerial Vehicle

Graduate Student, School of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Student Member AIAA.
Professor, School of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Member AIAA.
American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

Copyright © 2009 by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Inc. All rights reserved.
I. Introduction

A ircraft design usually comprises of three distinct phases namely the Conceptual, Preliminary and Detail design.
The conceptual design is characterized by understanding customer requirements, brainstorming for new ideas,
generation of design concepts, and selection of one or several design candidates. These design concepts are further
refined and one concept is selected with configuration freeze at the end of the Preliminary Design phase. The major
difficulty with the current approach is the fidelity or quality of the information that enters during these two phases in
making some of the most critical decisions at configuration level. The lower fidelity information cannot help a lot in
making the most crucial design choices and leads to poor product definition in these two phases.
The activities during each of
these three phases along with
the problems encountered
appear in

Figure 11. Ullman2 asserts that

80 % of the market delays are
caused by the poor definition of
the product. This product
definition begins in the
preliminary design phase and
the huge disparity between
importance and level of the
decisions and the quality and
fidelity of the supporting
information is a major
Figure 1: The aircraft design phases and the level of decisions to be made. Phases picture from Ref. [1]
CAD drawings are shown to illustrate the kinds of decisions being made during the Conceptual and Preliminary
design phases;
1. What would be the overall configuration of the plane? A mono-plane or bi-plane? A conventional tube and
wing, joined wing, flying wing, tailless or blended wing body configuration?
2. What type of empennage would be used? A conventional tail or canard design? If conventional tail, would
it be T-tail, cruciform, V-Tail and so on. If canard, whether to use control-canard or lifting canard.
3. Whether or not to use wingtip devices? If yes, use winglets, raked tip, or end plates?
4. Wing placement would be middle, high or low?
5. What kind of propulsion system to use? Turbofan, turbojet or turboprop? How many engines to use and the
placement of these engines; underneath the wings, over the wings, aft fuselage mounted and so on?
Whether to select an off the shelf engine or design for a new engine that would be developed along with the
aircraft? With the latest environmental and energy crisis, use of alternate fuels, electrical propulsion, and
hybrid systems have to be given a due consideration during this phase as well. In case any of these later
choices are made, this alone could considerably change the designs and the design methodologies.
Question then arises; What is the Reason for the designers’ inability to correctly address the deficiencies in the
problem definition the way it is being done at present? The answer lies in the very nature of the problem at hand;

The aircraft is a highly complex product comprising of disciplines

such as weight and balance, aerodynamics, structures, dynamics and
control, propulsion, and avionics. Problem is further aggravated due
to the conflicting nature of these disciplines e.g. an aerodynamically
efficient thinner wing would be structurally heavier. Difficulties may
even exist within the same discipline such as aerodynamics. Flow
regimes i.e. subsonic, transonic, supersonic and hypersonic, pose
unique challenges. Wave drag rise and difficulties in modeling
transonic flow behavior are some of the major challenges for the
modern day aerodynamists. The examples of these disciplines and the
fact that the aircraft design is truly a multidisciplinary iterative
process appears in Figure 2.
Figure 2: The nature of the aircraft design: Weight and Balance, Aerodynamics, Structures and so on…..
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II. Overview and the Impact of the Comprehensive Design Methodology

In order to address the multidisciplinary nature of the aircraft design and its challenges, an integrated approach is
required that is capable of providing high fidelity information for the application of the Design Methods. Such an
approach would result in comprehensive design synthesis that effectively meets the mission requirements. This
approach requires the following steps;
1. Given a set of mission
requirements, perform mission
2. Integrate the aircraft design
process using multi-fidelity,
commercial off-the-shelf (COTS)
CAD, CFD and FEA Tools.
Generate the design concepts
utilizing the capabilities of this
design integration.
3. Extract the design information
suitable for the application of the
design methods such as QFD3
and Pugh’s Method4.
4. Populate the scoring matrices in
the design methods such as QFD
or Pugh’s Method for the
problem definition as well as the
design synthesis.
This approach appears in Figure 3.
Figure 3: Schematic of the integrated approach to the aircraft preliminary design utilizing High Fidelity
CAD, CFD, FEA Tools and Design Methods

Unifying the Two Distinct Aircraft Design Phases into One Preliminary Design Phase

This approach is targeted not only at improving the design, but the design process as well. The integrated approach
that can simultaneously enable all the activities of the conceptual as well as preliminary design phases with higher
fidelity can in effect remove the boundaries and merge the two phases into one preliminary design phase. This
unification of phases is illustrated in Figure 4 and Figure 5.

Figure 4: Merging the traditional conceptual and preliminary design phases of aircraft design

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Prelimnary Design Prelimnary Design
Conceptual Design (Isolated Second phase (Integarated initial design
(Isolated phsae characterized characterized by low to phase charectrized by high
by least fidelity design tools) medium fidelity tools: fidelity CAD, CFD and FEA
Configuration Freeze) Tools and Design Methods)

Figure 5: Integrated approach can remove the boundaries and imp

rove the overall design practices.

III. Theoretical Background

To alleviate the problems with the current approach, the ability to incorporate high level design tools such as CAD
modeling, CFD, and FEA is proposed for the application of the Pugh’s Method of concept
oncept generation and selection.

A. Overview of Pugh’s Method 4

Pugh’s Method is used to generate and select design concepts. The application of the Pugh’s method begins with a
complete list of design concepts by comparing them with one of the concept
conceptss as a Datum. The rest of the concepts
are compared with this Datum using the following ratin
rating for each of a set of criteria;
1. If the concept being compared is bet better than the
Datum, it gets a plus (+). Initial design
2. If the concept being compared is worse than the
Datum, it gets a minus (-).
3. If the concept being compared is same as the Datum, C Concepts
it gets a same (S). Pugh recommends putting an S in
ambiguous situations where no clear winner emerges New Concepts
Pugh’s Method is also called the Method of Controlled Added

Convergence because it can “diverge” after the convergence C

in first round of concept selection as new concepts are
generated based on first round of concept evaluation. A
representation of this appears in Figure 6. The critical aspect “Controlled
is that an exhaustive effort should go into laying out all of the Convergence (CC) and
possible candidates so that the method continues to converge C Generation (CG)” of
to better and better design conceptsts as evaluation progresses.
Figure 6:: Pugh’s Method of Controlled Convergence. Fig Figure reconstructed after Ref.[4]

B. Overview of the Quality Function Deployment (QFD)

Quality Function Deployment (QFD)3 is a widely used design method in understanding the customer requirements?
“The power of QFD is in its founding philosophy: the voice of the customer ((VOC)
VOC) will drive everything an
organization does throughout the process of developing and delivering products and services” 3. It is commonly
referred to as the House of Quality (HOQ) due to the way QFD components are organized as shown in Figure 7. The
following sections briefly describe the inputs in these components.

Customer Requirements or WHATS (A)

Customer Requirements or WHATs represent the VOC along with a ranking of how important each requirement is
to thee customer. This ranking is determined by communicating with the customer and ranked accordingly.

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Engineering Attributes or HOWS (B)
The engineering attributes (called HOWs) are selected based on the customer requirements. The EAs are the
measurable set of parameters that help meet the customer requirements satisfactorily.

Customer Requirements and Engineering Attributes Relationship (C)

With these WHATs and HOWs occupying the left and top floor of the house, first floor on the right side is used to
see their relationship to ascertain the design drivers. To make this analysis meaningful, a numbered scale of 0 1 3
and 9 is used. 0 means no correlation (usually the box is left empty), 1 means weak positive relationship, 3 being
somewhat related and 9 for the strongest positive relationship.

Correlation Matrix (D)

The roof of the QFD Matrix shows correlation of the Engineering Attributes (EAs) with each other. The aim of
establishing such a correlation is to identify all the conflicts and agreements among various EAs that would become
part of the product. There are different levels or percentages that are recommended in the literature suggesting
certain correlation factor before proceeding with the design. This part is quite tedious but helps in seeing
correlations that support each other and those competing against each other.

Competition Benchmarking (E)

The competition benchmarking is carried out to ascertain how new product competes against the existing ones in
meeting each of the customer requirements. This helps in ensuring that the new design would exceed those
benchmarks in meeting the customer requirements, an aspect that is very crucial to the success of the new product.

Relative and Absolute Importance (F)

Finally, the bottom section of the QFD chart is used to enter a computed total of all the scores given to EAs based on
how well they would fulfill the customer requirements. This is ascertained on the absolute as well as the relative
scale. Absolute scale is just the sum of the products of the relationship score with the customer rating. The relative
importance is measured by summing all of these absolute scores and dividing each individual entry with this sum.

D. Correlation
B. Engineering Matrix
Attributes or HOWS
E. Competition

A. Customer

C. Relationship F. Relative and

between Customer Absolute
Requirements and Importance
Engineering Attributes
Figure 7: Quality Function Deployment (QFD). Figure reconstructed after Ref. [3]

IV. Examples from the Literature

Taylor and Weisshaar Ref.[5-7], have done an extensive work in the application of the design method called QFD to
the wing design using an array of structural design tools ranging from low to high fidelity. The design candidates
are evaluated based on various fidelity level structural analysis tools ranging from ASTROS to NASTRAN. The
authors have demonstrated that the higher level structural design tools can be used during the conceptual design
phase where critical, and configuration level decisions have to be made. Furthermore, these calculations have
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formed the basis for making much more informed and rational choices during the concept selection process. The
“funneling approach” towards higher fidelity structural analysis appears in Figure 8. This approach proceeds
through a refinement of structural modeling as well as application of the analysis tools. The FEM1 model is
generated by filling the entire wing with elastic medium and representative loads are applied to generate load paths.
A refined model is then generated for the second stage of the structural design using ASTROS and NASTRAN.
Nickol et al Ref. [8] have applied the DoD defined concept generation methodology called the Analysis of
Alternatives (AoA) to generate and evaluate design concepts for the HALE UAV design. Analysis of Alternatives
(AoA) is required by the Department of Defense (DoD) to be used at major milestone decision points (A, B, C etc.)
for making selection among several design concepts. Ref.[9] defines it as, “an analytical comparison of the
operational effectiveness, suitability, and Life-Cycle cost of alternatives that satisfy established capability needs”.
The design concepts are generated using a proprietary tool developed by AeroVironment, Inc. and delivered to
NASA Dryden Flight Research in 2004. The details of what the design tool actually does are not provided.
However, the consideration of 16 design concepts as shown in Figure 8, including solar regenerative as well as
consumable fuels, is more relevant from the industrial point of view.

Figure 8: QFD Application to the Wing Structural Design and AoA application to the HALE UAV Design
Concepts, Figures from Ref.[7,9]

V. Illustration of the CAD and CAE Integration

Excel Spreadsheet as an Integration Tool

The outline and implementation of the approach was given in detail in Ref. [10,11]. Schematic of the way Excel
Spreadsheets21 are used in integrating these tools appears in Figure 9. Links have been created for CAE Tools that
eliminate need for any kind of middleware;
1. Excel to Computer-Aided Three-
Dimensional Interactive Application
2. Excel to CMARC13, Low Order Panel Code
3. Excel to Digital Wind Tunnel (DWT)14, Low
Order Panel Code
4. Excel to GAMBIT15, Grid Generator and
Preprocessor for FLUENT
5. Excel to FLUENT16, High End Full Navier-
Stokes CFD Solver
6. Excel to ANSYS17, High End FEM Solver
for Structural Analysis
7. Excel to CATIA Generative Structural
Analysis18, High End FEM Solver for
Structural Analysis. Figure 9: Schematic of the Excel Spreadsheet as an Integration Tool

The idea is to layout the components of the methodology shown in Figure 3 in Excel spreadsheets where data entry
and visualization is simple and convenient. Sizing methodologies from Raymer19 and Brandt20 are implemented to

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calculate the wing reference area. After the initial sizing, design information from various fidelity level CAD and
CAE tools is utilized instead of continuing with the sizing and lofting methods described in Raymer. The first
spreadsheet is called the GlobPar (Global Parameters) where the user enters geometry parameters such as wing
aspect ratio, wing area, chord length, taper ratio, sweep, dihedral and twist angles. The SectionGlobalCoord
(Sections Global Coordiantes) Spreadsheet is used for converting these geometry parameters into different sections’
coordinates in the aircraft global coordinate system. The airfoil, elliptic and circular sections are entered and
updated in various spreadsheets that can be selected by the user to design a particular part of the aircraft.

Figure 10: The Geometry definition for the wing, body and winglet sections

A. Concept Generation in CAD

The ability to define the geometry in terms of sections allows
transformation of a single rectangular wing comprising of
several sections into any planform shape such as swept
forward and backward, tapered, twisted and so on. The same
rectangular wing can also be converted into BWB and flying
wing concepts as shown in Figure 11. The same BWB or any
other wing planform can be combined with the fuselage, and
tail sections to create innumerable number of design concepts.
The evolution of the two basic wing and tube concepts from
BWB is shown in Figure 12. Finally, the joined wing
concepts and other few examples are given in Figure 13.

Figure 11: Rectangular wing transformed into various wing planforms and BWB

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Figure 12: CAD Evolution: A rectangular w
wing transformed into the BWB and wing and tube designs

Figure 13: Variety of CAD Concepts

Figure 14:: Illustration of the internal volum

e, Weight and CG Location measurements in CATIA

B. The Structural Design Methodology

Figure 16 shows the methodology of the structural design in CATIA as well as ANSYS. The approach has been
developed to suit the need
eed of the preliminary designer considering various structural layouts including ribs and spar,
all spar or hollow wing structures etc. This methodology allows lots of flexibility and efficiency to the structural
designer who can design, analyze and optim
ize variety of concepts in fraction of the traditional time requiring
laborious and time consuming bottom up structural designs.

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Figure 15:: Generation of the structural members in CATIA and ANSYS

Figure 16: Complete Structural Layout along with the Finite Element Model

Structural Design Optimization

ANSYS17 offers built in design optimization
tools that include basic design sweepss and
DOE type optimization, gradient based
optimization, topology optimization
imization and
probabilistic methods such as Monte Carlo
simulations. Some of the methods included
in ANSYS are;
1. Design sweeps using random
iterations through certain
2. Sub-problem approximation
3. First order optimization method
4. Gradient basedased design sensitivity
at a given point in design space .
5. Global sweeps through global
design space starting from a single
design set.
6. User-supplied external

The Design Sweep and Sub-problem

approximation methods were used in the
current examples illustrated in the
Applications Section. Figure 17 shows a
summary of various design variables and
the resulting objective function i.e. the
volume of the design under consideration.

Figure 17: Summary of the Optimization data in both the tabular and graphical form in ANSYS

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VI. Application of the Design Methodology to the MALE UAV Design

MALE UAV Design Requirements

The wing design concepts were generated for meeting the typical Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) UAV
mission requirements22;
Cruise Speed: 70 knots (35 m/s)
Range = 400 nm (740km)
Endurance =24 Hours
Operating Altitude = 30,000 Feet (~10000 m)
Payload = 750 lbs (340 kg)

High Fidelity CAD and CAE Data Generation

The goal of the current approach is to perform the design integration and optimization suitable for the preliminary
aircraft designers at a fraction of the time usually needed. This section illustrates the extraction of design
information resulting from the high fidelity analysis and design explained in the foregoing.
Table 1 graphically summarizes this information for subsequently applying the Pugh’s Method. Table 2 summarizes
the quantitative results from the aerodynamic and structural design as well as the measurements from FEA as well as

Table 1: Summary of CAD Drawings, Pressure Distributions and Stress Distribution for the Design Concepts

CAD Geometry Cp Distribution Structural Results: Von Mises Stress Distribution

Computed in CMARC Calculated in ANSYS





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Table 2: Summary of the Data from CAD and CAE

Concept Concept Geometric Aerodynamics Structural Characteristics

Label Description Characteristics (L/D Ratio)
Internal Structural Weight Max Von Mises
Volume (kg) Stress (MPa)
C-1 Untapered- 23.26 51.99 1056.77 85.82
C-2 Untapered- 23.26 51.35 1058.97 85.80
Wing-Body w/
C-3 Tapered Wing- 23.26 52.88 790.59 220.32
C-4 Tapered Wing- 23.26 52.39 829.85 165.71
Body w/

VII. Application of the Pugh’s Method

Given the graphical depiction of various design concepts as well as the quantitative results summarized in
Table 1 and Table 2, the Pugh’s Method can be applied to make some choices as to which of the design concepts
best suits the MALE UAV’s mission.
Table 3: Application of the Pugh’s Method: First Iteration

C-1 Untapered- C-2 Untapered Wing- C-3 Tapered C-4 Tapered

Wing-Body Body w/ Dihedral Wing-Body Wing-Body w/

MTOGW - + +
Fuel / Payload Volume S S S
Manufacturability Untapered- Wing - - -
Range / Endurance Body - + +
Sum (+) 0 2 2
Sum (-) 3 1 2
Sum (S) 1 1 1

Based on the scoring of various concepts, two tapered wing concepts i.e. C-3 and C-4 outperform the datum as well
as the untapered wing-body dihedral concept. Major advantage comes from the structural weight and the
aerodynamics in terms of the L/D ratio. At this point, there are two remaining concepts that fulfill mission and
finally compete against each other to be down selected to one. A second iteration of the Pugh’s Method is applied to
discern which of the two concepts is the best given the design information at hand.

Table 3 summarizes the results where the Tapered wing-body is taken as the datum to compare against the tapered
dihedral concept. Since the tapered wing-body has advantage in all the categories with the exception of same
internal volume, C-3 Tapered Wing-Body concept emerges as the lightest and more aerodynamically efficient
concept. This illustrates the viability of the proposed methodology as well as the Pugh’s Method in leading to a
design concept that would best fulfill the mission while competing with some close contenders that have the ability
to fulfill the same mission but not so well.

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Table 3: Application of the Pugh’s Method: Second Iteration

C-3 Tapered Wing-Body C-4 Tapered Wing-Body w/


Fuel / Payload Volume S
Manufacturability C-3 Tapered Wing-Body -
Range / Endurance -
Sum (+) 0
Sum (-) 3
Sum (S) 1

VIII. Conclusion
The high fidelity CAD and CAE tools have been integrated using Excel Spreadsheet to provide geometric,
aerodynamic, and structural design results at a fraction of the time traditionally needed for such design and analysis.
Various concepts were generated for the MALE UAV mission in CAD using CATIA V5 ranging from wing- body
configurations with and without taper. The computational as well as graphical results from the aerodynamics
design in CMARC and structural design and optimization in ANSYS were extracted and organized in the form of
tables for guiding the choices in applying the Pugh’s Method of concept generation and selection. The Pugh’s
Method is shown to be applied with more certainty and clarity within the scope of the defined mission. It is shown
that the method primarily relies on the computations and not on the experience and feelings of the designer. The
example application leads to the selection of the lightest concept when an overall scoring factor is used. This helps
in removing some of the major concerns aircraft designers have about the use of the structured design methods
including their qualitative nature of traditional application to some of the most intricate decisions from
aerodynamics and structures disciplines. It is envisioned that as the proposed design integration and optimization
matures and a larger number of design candidates computed through parallel and other advanced computing
techniques, much improvement in the overall design would be realizable with higher fidelity, right during the
preliminary design phase.

IX. Acknowledgements

Mr. Usman’s help with the MATLAB programming is greatly appreciated.

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