Multidisciplinary Design Optimization and Industry Review of a 2010 Strut-Braced Wing Transonic Transport
Gundlach, John Frederick
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Recent transonic airliner designs have generally converged upon a common cantilever low-wing configuration. It is unlikely that further large strides in performance are possible without a significant departure from the present design paradigm. One such alternative configuration is the strut-braced wing, which uses a strut for wing bending load alleviation, allowing increased aspect ratio and reduced wing thickness to increase the lift to drag ratio. The thinner wing has less transonic wave drag, permitting the wing to unsweep for increased areas of natural laminar flow and further structural weight savings. High aerodynamic efficiency translates into reduced fuel consumption and smaller, quieter, less expensive engines with lower noise pollution. A Multidisciplinary Design Optimization (MDO) approach is essential to understand the full potential of this synergistic configuration due to the strong interdependency of structures, aerodynamics and propulsion. NASA defined a need for a 325-passenger transport capable of flying 7500 nautical miles at Mach 0.85 for a 2010 date of entry into service. Lockheed Martin Aeronautical systems (LMAS), our industry partner, placed great emphasis on realistic constraints, projected technology levels, manufacturing and certification issues. Numerous design challenges specific to the strut-braced wing became apparent through the interactions with LMAS, and modifications had to be made to the Virginia Tech code to reflect these concerns, thus contributing realism to the MDO results. The SBW configuration is 9.2-17.4% lighter, burns 16.2-19.3% less fuel, requires 21.5-31.6% smaller engines and costs 3.8-7.2% less than equivalent cantilever wing aircraft.
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