Development of a Multi-Disciplinary Design Optimization Framework for a Strut-Braced Wing Transport Aircraft in PACELAB APD 3.1
The purpose of this study was to extend the analysis methods in PACELAB APD 3.1, a recent commercially available aircraft preliminary design tool with potential for MDO applications, for higher fidelity with physics-based instead of empirical methods and to enable the analysis of nonconventional aircraft configurations. The implementation of these methods was first validated against both existing models and wind tunnel data. Then, the original and extended PACELAB APD versions were used to perform minimum-fuel optimizations for both a traditional cantilever and strut-braced wing aircraft for a medium-range regional transport mission similar to that of a 737-type aircraft, with a minimum range of 3,115 nm and a cruise Mach number of 0.78. The aerodynamics, engine size / weight estimation and structural modules were heavily modified and extended to accomplish this. Comparisons to results for the same mission generated with FLOPS and VT MDO are also discussed.
For the strut-braced configuration, large fuel savings on the order of 37% over the baseline 737-800 aircraft are predicted, while for the cantilever aircraft savings of 10-30% are predicted depending on whether the default or VT methods are utilized in the PACELAB analysis. This demonstrates the potential of the strut-braced configuration for reducing fuel costs, as well as the benefit of MDO in the aircraft conceptual design process. For the cantilever aircraft, FLOPS and VT MDO predict fuel savings of 8% and 23%, respectively. VT MDO predicts a fuel savings of 28% for the strut-braced aircraft over the baseline.