Aeroelastic Analysis of Truss-Braced Wing Aircraft: Applications for Multidisciplinary Design Optimization

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Virginia Tech

This study highlights the aeroelastic behavior of very flexible truss-braced wing (TBW) aircraft designs obtained through a multidisciplinary design optimization (MDO) framework. Several improvements to previous analysis methods were developed and validated.

Firstly, a flutter constraint was developed and the effects of the constraint on the MDO of TBW transport aircraft for both medium-range and long-range missions were studied while minimizing the take-off gross weight (TOGW) and the fuel burn as the objective functions. Results show that when the flutter constraint is applied at 1.15 times the dive speed, it imposes a 1.5% penalty on the take-off weight and a 5% penalty on the fuel consumption while minimizing these two objective functions for the medium-range mission. For the long-range mission, the penalties imposed by the similar constraint on the minimum TOGW and minimum fuel burn designs are 3.5% and 7.5%, respectively. Importantly, the resulting TBW designs are still superior to equivalent cantilever designs for both of the missions as they have both lower TOGW and fuel burn. However, a relaxed flutter constraint applied at 1.05 times the dive speed can restrict the penalty on the TOGW to only 0.3% and that on the fuel burn to 2% for minimizing both the objectives, for the medium-range mission. For the long-range mission, a similar relaxed constraint can reduce the penalty on fuel burn to 2.9%. These observations suggest further investigation into active flutter suppression mechanisms for the TBW aircraft to further reduce either the TOGW or the fuel burn.

Secondly, the effects of a variable-geometry raked wingtip (VGRWT) on the maneuverability and aeroelastic behavior of passenger aircraft with very flexible truss-braced wings (TBW) were investigated. These TBW designs obtained from the MDO environment while minimizing fuel burn resemble a Boeing 777-200 Long Range (LR) aircraft both in terms of flight mission and aircraft configuration. The VGRWT can sweep forward and aft relative to the wing with the aid of a Novel Control Effector (NCE) mechanism. Results show that the VGRWT can be swept judiciously to alter the bending-torsion coupling and the movement of the center of pressure of wing. Such behavior of the VGRWT is applied to both achieve the required roll control as well as to increase flutter speed, and thus, enable the operation of TBW configurations which have up to 10% lower fuel burn than comparable optimized cantilever wing designs.

Finally, a transonic aeroelastic analysis tool was developed which can be used for conceptual design in an MDO environment. Routine transonic aeroelastic analysis require expensive CFD simulations, hence they cannot be performed in an MDO environment. The present approach utilizes the results of a companion study of CFD simulations performed offline for the steady Reynolds Averaged Navier Stokes equations for a variety of airfoil parameters. The CFD results are used to develop a response surface which can be used in the MDO environment to perform a Leishman-Beddoes (LB) indicial functions based flutter analysis. A reduced-order model (ROM) is also developed for the unsteady aerodynamic system. Validation of the strip theory based aeroelastic analysis with LB unsteady aerodynamics and the computational efficiency and accuracy of the ROM is demonstrated. Finally, transonic aeroelastic analysis of a TBW aircraft designed for the medium-range flight mission similar to a Boeing 737 next generation (NG) with a cruise Mach number of 0.8 is presented. The results show the potential of the present approach to perform a more accurate, yet inexpensive, flutter analysis for MDO studies of transonic transport aircraft which are expected to undergo flutter at transonic conditions.

Aeroelasticity, Multidisciplinary Design Optimization, Truss-Braced Wing Aircraft, Variable Geometry Raked Wingtip, State-space Aerodynamics