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Enhancing Aircraft Conceptual Design Using Multidisciplinary Optimization

Enhancing Aircraft Conceptual Design Using Multidisciplinary Optimization

by: Daniel P. Raymer

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Title: Enhancing Aircraft Conceptual Design Using Multidisciplinary Optimization

Author: Daniel P. Raymer

Year: 2002

Pages: 166

ISBN-10 / ASIN: 9172832592

Publisher: Department of Aeronautics
Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Stockholm


Research into the improvement of the Aircraft Conceptual Design process by the
application of Multidisciplinary Optimization (MDO) is presented. Aircraft conceptual
design analysis codes were incorporated into a variety of optimization methods including
Orthogonal Steepest Descent (full-factorial stepping search), Monte Carlo, a mutation-based
Evolutionary Algorithm, and three variants of the Genetic Algorithm with
numerous options. These were compared in the optimization of four notional aircraft
concepts, namely an advanced multirole export fighter, a commercial airliner, a flyingwing
UAV, and a general aviation twin of novel asymmetric configuration. To better
stress the methods, the commercial airliner design was deliberately modified for certain
case runs to reflect a very poor initial choice of design parameters including wing
loading, sweep, and aspect ratio.

MDO methods were evaluated in terms of their ability to find the optimal aircraft, as well
as total execution time, convergence history, tendencies to get caught in a local optimum,
sensitivity to the actual problem posed, and overall ease of programming and operation.
In all, more than a million parametric variations of these aircraft designs were defined
and analyzed in the course of this research.

Following this assessment of the optimization methods, they were used to study the issue
of how the computer optimization routine modifies the aircraft geometric inputs to the
analysis modules as the design is parametrically changed. Since this will ultimately drive
the final result obtained, this subject deserves serious attention. To investigate this
subject, procedures for automated redesign which are suitable for aircraft conceptual
design MDO were postulated, programmed, and evaluated as to their impact on
optimization results for the sample aircraft and on the realism of the computer-defined
“optimum” aircraft. (These are sometimes called vehicle scaling laws, but should not be
confused with aircraft sizing, also called scaling in some circles.)

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