The Role of Constraints and Vehicle Concepts in Transport Design: A Comparison of Cantilever and Strut-Braced Wing Airplane Concepts


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Virginia Tech


The purpose of this study is to examine the multidisciplinary design optimization (MDO) of a strut-braced wing (SBW) aircraft compared to similarly designed cantilever wing aircraft. In this study, four different configurations are examined: cantilever wing aircraft, fuselage mounted engine SBW, wing mounted engine SBW, and wingtip mounted engine SBW. The cantilever wing design is used as a baseline for comparison. Two mission profiles were used. The first called for a 7380 nmi range with a 305 passenger load based on a typical Boeing 777 mission. The second profile was supplied by Lockheed Martin Aeronautical Systems (LMAS) and has a 7500 nmi range with a 325 passenger load. Both profiles have a 0.85 cruise Mach number and a 500 nmi reserve range.

Several significant refinements and improvements have been made to the previously developed MDO code for this study. Improvements included using ADIFOR (Automatic Differentiation for FORTRAN) to explicitly compute gradients in the design code. Another major change to the MDO code is the improvement of the optimization architecture to allow for a more robust optimization process.

During the Virginia Tech SBW study, Lockheed Martin Aeronautical Systems (LMAS) was tasked by NASA Langley to evaluate the results of previous SBW studies. During this time, the original weight equations which were obtained from NASA Langley's Flight Optimization System (FLOPS) was replaced by LMAS proprietary equations. A detailed study on the impact of the equations from LMAS on the four designs was done, comparing them to the designs that used the FLOPS equations. Results showed that there was little difference in the designs obtained using the new equations.

An investigation of the effect of the design constraints on the different configurations was performed. It was found that in all the design configurations, the aircraft range proved to be the most crucial constraint in the design. However, results showed that all three SBW designs were less sensitive to constraints than the cantilever wing aircraft.

Finally, a double-deck fuselage concept was considered. A double deck fuselage configuration would result in a greater wing/strut intersection angle which would, in turn, reduce interference drag at that section. Due to the lack of available data on double deck fuselage aircraft, a detailed study of passenger and cargo layout was done. Optimized design showed that there was a small improvement in takeoff gross weight and fuel weight over the single-deck fuselage SBW results when compared with a similarly designed cantilever wing aircraft.



Tip-Mounted Engines, Strut-Braced Wing, Aircraft Design, Multidisciplinary Design Optimization