Interference Drag Due to Engine Nacelle Location for a Single-Aisle, Transonic Aircraft

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Virginia Tech

This investigation sought first to determine the feasibility of generating a surrogate model of the interference drag between nacelles and wing-fuselage systems suitable for the inclusion in a multidisciplinary design optimization (MDO) framework. The target aircraft was a single-aisle, transonic aircraft with a freestream Mach number of 0.8 at 35,000 feet and a design lift coefficient of 0.5. Using an MDO framework is necessary for placing the nacelle because of the competing objectives of the disciplines involved in aircraft design including structures, acoustics, and aerodynamics. A secondary goal was to determine what tools are necessary for accurately capturing interference drag effects on the system. This research used both Euler computational fluid dynamics (CFD) with a coupled viscous drag estimation tool and Reynolds Averaged Navier-Stokes (RANS) CFD to estimate the system drag. The initial trade space exploration that varied the nacelle location across a baseline airframe configuration was completed with the Euler solver, and it showed that appreciable overlap between the wing and nacelle led to large increases in interference drag. A follow-on study was conducted with RANS CFD where the wing shape was tailored for each unique nacelle position. In comparing the results of the Euler and the RANS CFD, it was determined that RANS is required to accurately capture the flow features. Euler solvers can create artifacts due to the lack of viscous effects within the model. Wing tailoring is necessary because of the sensitivity of transonic flows to geometric changes and the addition of neighboring components, such as a nacelle. The research showed that for above and aft wing locations, a nacelle can overlap the trailing edge without incurring a drag penalty. Nacelles placed in the conventional location, forward and beneath the wing, displayed low interference drag effects, as the nacelle had a small and local impact on the wing's aerodynamics. Given the high cost of computing a RANS solution with wing tailoring, and the large design space for nacelle locations, building a surrogate model for interference drag was found to be prohibitive at this time. As the cost of computing and mesh generation decreases, collecting the data for building a surrogate model may become tractable.

Propulsion-Airframe Integration, Interference Drag, Computational fluid dynamics, Transonic Aerodynamics, Wing Design, Aircraft Design